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Black Lives Matter: Race-Based Policing as a Threat to the Rule of Law

Image of Black Lives Matter protestors

We will explore the definition of the Rule of Law, what it requires, what happens in its absence, and how it has declined and emerged globally.

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Date: 4/4/2018

Time: 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Location: West Village F, Room 20
Sponsored By: School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern’s School of Law
Contact: sppua@northeastern.edu

Free and Open to the Public

Political regimes gain legitimacy when they observe the Rule of Law; leaders of liberal democracies often boast about their adherence to the Rule of Law.  The Rule of Law is “much invoked, but inadequately defined.” Like most “essentially contested concepts,” the Rule of Law means many things to many people, but at its core it involves all members of a political community being subject to the same (well defined) laws and standards and an independent judiciary.  However, we define it as much by its breach as by its adherence.

The World Justice Project suggests that the Rule of Law includes four necessary principles:

  1. Accountability: The government as well as members of the public and private actors are accountable under the law.
  2. Just Laws: The laws are clear, publicized, stable and just; are applied evenly; and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property and at least some human rights.
  3. Open Government: The processes by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced are accessible, fair, and efficient.
  4. Accessible & Impartial Dispute Resolution: Justice is delivered in a timely manner by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are accessible, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.

In the Spring 2018 Open Classroom, we will explore the definition of the Rule of Law, what it requires, what happens in its absence, and how it has declined and emerged globally. We will also explore some of the tensions between the Rule of Law and Democratic Governance, focusing on the Rule of Law in time of polarization and technological upheaval (as in the United States but also abroad).

Black Lives Matter: Race-Based Policing as a Threat to the Rule of Law

Chiraag Bains, former Federal Prosecutor and Senior Official, Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division; Author, Ferguson Report

Patricia Williams, James L. Dohr Professor of Law, Columbia Law School

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