Studies in Law, Politics, and Society: Volume 82

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(7 chapters)


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The sudden rise of the socio-political importance of security that has marked the twenty-first century entails a commensurate empowerment of the intelligence apparatus. This chapter takes the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 as a vantage point from where to address the political significance of this development. It provides an account of the powers the Act grants intelligence agencies, concluding that it effectively legalizes their operational paradigm. Further, the socio-legal dynamics that informed the Act lead the chapter to conclude that Intelligence has become a dominant apparatus within the state. This chapter pivots at this point. It seeks to identify, first, the reasons of this empowerment; and, second, its effects on liberal-democratic forms, including the rule of law. The key reason for intelligence empowerment is the adoption of a pre-emptive security strategy, geared toward neutralizing threats that are yet unformed. Regarding its effects on liberal democracy, the chapter notes the incompatibility of the logic of intelligence with the rule of law. It further argues that the empowerment of intelligence pertains to the rise of a new threat-based governmental logic. It outlines the core premises of this logic to argue that they strengthen the anti-democratic elements in liberalism, but in a manner that liberalism is overcome.


In a country where judicial institutions are known to be inefficient and where activists have traditionally not engaged in legal mobilization, what explains the emergence of NGO strategic litigation? The author argues that a change in the legal opportunity structure impacts how activists interact with the legal system. Comparing two states in Mexico, the author demonstrates that the introduction of private prosecution rights opened the door for activists to litigate femicide cases. The emergence of strategic litigation has helped improve compliance with international human rights law and has had a demonstration effect on how to use the law to press for accountability.


This chapter examines the delicate balance achieved by apex courts in new democracies when dealing with impunity for rights violations during times of transitional justice. While international law has clearly rejected amnesties for past rights violations, domestic politics sometimes incorporate amnesties as part of larger peace settlements. This puts courts in the difficult situation of balancing the competing demands of law and politics. Courts have achieved equipoise in this situation by adopting substantive interpretations and procedural approaches that use international law’s rights-based language but without implementing international law’s restrictions on amnesties. In many cases, courts do this without acknowledging the necessarily pragmatic nature of their decisions. In fact, oftentimes courts find ways of avoiding having to make any substantive decision, effectively removing themselves from a dispute that could call into question their adherence to international legal norms that transcend politics. In doing so, they empower political actors to continue down the road toward negotiated peace settlements, while at the same time protecting the courts’ legitimacy as institutions uniquely situated to protect international human rights norms – including those they have effectively deemphasized in the process.


Considerations of the legal rights of incarcerated juveniles are often concerned with the myriad ways in which due process rights are circumscribed, abridged, or undermined by the operations of the juvenile court (e.g., Berkheiser, 2016; Cleary, 2017; Feld, 1999; Rapisarda & Kaplan, 2016). Studies of youth legal consciousness have additionally sought to explore the role of media, legal status, court experiences, and even parents in the formation of youth attitudes about the justice system (e.g., Abrego, 2011; Brisman, 2010; Greene, Sprott, Madon, & Jung, 2010; Pennington, 2017). This chapter builds on this work by exploring the way rights shaped the everyday lives of incarcerated youth. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in a juvenile hall, this chapter explores three different moments outside of a formal legal context where the invocation of due process rights limited the self-expression and exploration of incarcerated youth. In each of these cases, the invocation of protecting due process rights by adults served to stifle youth efforts to remake juvenile hall as a place open and receptive to their needs. These three moments demonstrate that rights project a particular legal vision onto a world that does not neatly conform to the reality in which youth lived. For these reasons, the consideration of legal rights for youth must also consider how these rights can forestall the very transformation in circumstances that many youth seek.


As social movements engage in transnational legal processes, they have articulated innovative rights claims outside the nation-state frame. This chapter analyzes emerging practices of legal mobilization in response to global governance through a case study of the “right to food sovereignty.” The claim of food sovereignty has been mobilized transnationally by small-scale food producers, food-chain workers, and the food insecure to oppose the liberalization of food and agriculture. The author analyzes the formation of this claim in relation to the rise of a “network imaginary” of global governance. By drawing on ethnographic research, the author shows how activists have internalized this imaginary within their claims and practices of legal mobilization. In doing so, the author argues, transnational food sovereignty activists co-constitute global food governance from below. Ultimately, the development of these practices in response to shifting forms of transnational legality reflects the enduring, mutually constitutive relationship between law and social movements on a global scale.


It is commonly claimed that the entrapment defense has never succeeded in a terrorism case. Yet that is not precisely true. In several post-9/11 cases, entrapment claims have contributed to full or partial acquittals, hung juries, and unexpectedly lenient sentences. Prosecutors have also dropped charges, setting convicted defendants free, to prevent successful entrapment defenses upon retrial. This chapter concludes that, despite the fragility and ambiguity of the right not to be entrapped, entrapment claims can achieve partial victories even in terrorism cases, due to the multiple discretion points at which entrapment can inform strategic or normative judgments.

Cover of Studies in Law, Politics, and Society
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Studies in Law, Politics, and Society
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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