Compliant Subversion

November
2017
Jacob Hutt

Compliance and subversion are not mutually exclusive. Police officers can comply with Miranda requirements while subverting their purpose through creative workarounds; individuals facing deportation can comply with immigration procedures while clogging them up with frivolous claims; anti-death penalty activists can avoid violation of Eighth Amendment doctrine while undermining the executions it approves. These and other deliberate actions to obstruct judicial protections of rights and powers fall in a gray area between compliance and noncompliance. This Note articulates a transsubstantive legal theory underlying these actions, referred to as “compliant subversion”: attempts to make judicial protections of rights or powers unworkable while maintaining facial compliance with the law. After defining this concept and exploring its manifestations across different areas of law, the Note examines how courts constrain compliant subversion with reference to the subversive intent underlying it. Finally, the Note presents a normative critique of when judicial consideration of compliant subversion is inappropriate.

 

This article appears in the November 2017 Issue: Volume 92, Number 5