NewYorkUniversity
LawReview

Topics

Civil Rights

Results

Permanently Excluded

Maia M. Cole

New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) deprives hundreds of residents of their housing every year without affording them due process. Based on the allegedly undesirable behavior of one household member, NYCHA can begin a termination of tenancy action against an entire family. Using the threat of termination as leverage, NYCHA coerces the tenant of record into permanently excluding the “undesirable” occupant, barring them from living with or visiting their family. The excluded family member is given no notice of the termination action and no opportunity to contest their permanent exclusion.

This Note contends that authorized occupants in NYCHA housing have due process rights which mandate notice and the opportunity to be heard before they lose their home. NYCHA does not currently recognize such rights. But, as this Note will show, authorized occupants have a property interest in public housing. NYCHA’s practice of permanent exclusion deprives them of that interest. This Note suggests alternatives for NYCHA to consider instead of relying on permanent exclusion as a means of crime reduction. Ultimately, the goal of this Note is to push NYCHA to live up to its mission: to provide decent and affordable housing to low-income New Yorkers.

The Case Against Criminalizing Homelessness: Functional Barriers to Shelters and Homeless Individuals’ Lack of Choice

Joy H. Kim

In 2018, the Ninth Circuit ruled in Martin v. City of Boise that the city’s ordinance criminalizing individuals for sleeping or camping outdoors in public space—an increasingly popular method for cities to regulate the homeless—is unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment’s Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause. Martin was not the first case in which a court struck down an anti-homeless ordinance under the Eighth Amendment. However, it was the first to deem it unconstitutional for a city to punish a homeless person for sleeping outside when shelters are not “practically available,” even if they technically have available beds. The court in Martin said the shelters at issue were not practically available because they were religiously coercive. This Note argues, however, that courts reviewing criminalization measures should consider whether shelters are practically available to homeless individuals for reasons beyond religious coercion. Many functional barriers to shelter deprive homeless individuals of a meaningful choice, and the Eighth Amendment prevents governments from punishing individuals for matters beyond their control. Courts should make individualized inquiries when considering the constitutionality of criminalization measures to assess whether individuals experiencing homelessness truly have a meaningful “choice” in sleeping outside. However, the constitutional infirmities behind criminalization measures, the highly factual inquiries required of courts to determine their constitutionality, and their exacerbation of homelessness underscore the need for cities to stop criminalizing homelessness.

Revisiting Hate Crimes Enhancements in the Shadow of Mass Incarceration

Shirin Sinnar, Beth A. Colgan

Although civil rights advocates have largely supported hate crimes laws over the last four decades, growing concern over mass incarceration is now leading some to question the focus on enhancing prison sentences. This Essay explores two alternatives to the traditional sentence enhancement model that might retain the expressive message of hate crimes laws—to convey society’s particular condemnation of crimes of bias—while relying less heavily on police and prisons: the reformation of victim compensation programs to help victims and targeted communities and the application of restorative justice processes to hate crimes. Each of these alternatives presents complications, but both offer sufficient potential to justify further exploration.

Anti-Segregation Policing

Monica C. Bell

Conversations about police reform in lawmaking and legal scholarship typically take a narrow view of the multiple, complex roles that policing plays in American society, focusing primarily on their techniques of crime control. This Article breaks from that tendency, engaging police reform from a sociological perspective that focuses instead on the noncriminal functions of policing. In particular, it examines the role of policing in the daily maintenance of racial residential segregation, one of the central strategies of American racial inequality. Unlike previous work that touches on these issues, this Article argues that police reformers and police leaders should adopt an anti-segregation approach to policing. It also offers legal frameworks and policy prescriptions that flow from an anti-segregation ethic in police governance.

This Article begins by setting forth a rich account of residential segregation, clarifying the distinction between easily measurable proxies for segregation and the type of segregation with which law and policy should be concerned: the spatial separation that confines, subordinates, and dominates. It then identifies and illustrates six mechanisms through which American policing perpetuates residential segregation, drawing from sociological research, including qualitative narratives collected in Dallas County, Texas; Cuyahoga County, Ohio; and Baltimore, Maryland. Next, the Article sketches the architecture of anti-segregation policing, offering legal frameworks based on fair housing law and federal and state consent decrees, as well as a non-exhaustive set of practical approaches police departments could take to advance an anti-segregation agenda. Finally, the Article engages a fundamental question central to police transformation movements today: Is meaningful police reform, including anti-segregation policing, possible in a society that is structured through race?

Closing the Racial Wealth Gap

Mehrsa Baradaran

This Article explores a few remedies to closing the racial wealth gap rooted in a theory of contract damages. The U.S. government has failed to live up to its promises to Black Americans to treat them equally under the law and thus a remedy is justified. Though a full reparations program is necessary and theoretically justified, this Article does not focus on a full-scale reparations program. Rather, the Article explores how a housing grant might work as one solution to closing the racial wealth gap given the current constitutional interpretation and political barriers.

 

Adverse Employment Actions in Failure-to-Accommodate Claims: Much Ado About Nothing

Nicole Buonocore Porter

This Article addresses a circuit split in the disability law jurisprudence. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employees generally bring two types of claims against their employers—discrimination claims and failure-to-accommodate claims. Succeeding on a discrimination claim requires proving that the employee suffered an adverse employment action. Succeeding on a failure-to-accommodate claim does not. But several courts—including a recent case in the Tenth Circuit—have added this adverse- employment-action requirement into failure-to-accommodate claims. In doing so, these courts have camouflaged important issues about an employer’s obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation to disabled employees. Although I believe that courts that require an adverse employment action in failure-to-accommodates claim do so in error, the main contribution of this Article is to reveal how courts have obscured and confused broader disability-accommodation issues by imposing that requirement.

Beyond #MeToo

Deborah Tuerkheimer

The #MeToo movement has ushered in a new kind of sexual misconduct accusation—accusation leveled through informal channels of communication. A functional analysis shows that unofficial reporting can advance important ends. But the rise of informal accusation should be of special concern to legal scholars and lawyers, who generally proceed from certain assumptions regarding the primacy of formal systems of accountability. These basic assumptions need revision if, by aiming to satisfy goals that our laws and legal institutions fail to achieve, informal reporting channels are serving as substitutes for the officially sanctioned mechanisms of accountability that monopolize scholarly attention. Unofficial reporting pathways are imperfect legal workarounds; their prevalence means that the law of sexual misconduct has been consigned to a relative state of quiescence. Over time, survivors, long disserved by the criminal law, by campus disciplinary processes, and by workplace complaint structures, have mostly turned away from the systems that have forsaken them. A needed redesign of official complaint channels should be informed by the benefits of informal reporting, along with a commitment to awakening law. 

Dirty Data, Bad Predictions: How Civil Rights Violations Impact Police Data, Predictive Policing Systems, and Justice

Rashida Richardson, Jason M. Schultz, Kate Crawford

Law enforcement agencies are increasingly using predictive policing systems to forecast criminal activity and allocate police resources. Yet in numerous jurisdictions, these systems are built on data produced during documented periods of flawed, racially biased, and sometimes unlawful practices and policies (“dirty policing”). These policing practices and policies shape the environment and the methodology by which data is created, which raises the risk of creating inaccurate, skewed, or systemically biased data (“dirty data”). If predictive policing systems are informed by such data, they cannot escape the legacies of the unlawful or biased policing practices that they are built on. Nor do current claims by predictive policing vendors provide sufficient assurances that their systems adequately mitigate or segregate this data.

In our research, we analyze thirteen jurisdictions that have used or developed predictive policing tools while under government commission investigations or federal court monitored settlements, consent decrees, or memoranda of agreement stemming from corrupt, racially biased, or otherwise illegal policing practices. In particular, we examine the link between unlawful and biased police practices and the data available to train or implement these systems. We highlight three case studies: (1) Chicago, an example of where dirty data was ingested directly into the city’s predictive system; (2) New Orleans, an example where the extensive evidence of dirty policing practices and recent litigation suggests an extremely high risk that dirty data was or could be used in predictive policing; and (3) Maricopa County, where despite extensive evidence of dirty policing practices, a lack of public transparency about the details of various predictive policing systems restricts a proper assessment of the risks. The implications of these findings have widespread ramifications for predictive policing writ large. Deploying predictive policing systems in jurisdictions with extensive histories of unlawful police practices presents elevated risks that dirty data will lead to flawed or unlawful predictions, which in turn risk perpetuating additional harm via feedback loops throughout the criminal justice system. The use of predictive policing must be treated with high levels of caution and mechanisms for the public to know, assess, and reject such systems are imperative.

Queering the Welfare State: Paradigmatic Heteronormativity After Obergefell

Matt J. Barnett

Although lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer people in the United States of America have experienced significant changes in their legal rights over the previous decade, they are still disproportionately likely to live in poverty. The Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges granted LGBQ individuals access to the institution of marriage and the attendant social benefits, but the safety net is still full of holes for low-income LGBQ individuals because of deeply rooted heteronormativity in the administration of welfare. Using three facially neutral examples— proof-of-paternity requirements for welfare recipients, work requirements for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Medicaid programs, and barriers to state support for low-income LGBQ youth experiencing homelessness—this Note elucidates and indicts enduring paradigms of heteronormativity in the welfare state. This Note also offers prescriptive solutions, advocating for the adoption of the perennial legislative proposal known as the “Equality Act” as well as state and federal executive action to ease the burdens on LGBQ welfare recipients in the near term.

The Silver Tsunami: Employment Law Reform to Protect Family Caregivers of the Aging Population

Lisa P. Wiggin

The imminent aging of the “baby boom” generation will magnify the need for eldercare, much of which will come from family members who also work outside the home. Current laws are inadequate to protect many working family caregivers from family responsibilities discrimination (FRD): the unfair treatment of workers with family caregiving responsibilities. When FRD causes caregivers to leave the workplace, there can be financial penalties for both the caregivers—especially women—and their employers. This Essay proposes that states can resolve these issues by adding family caregivers as a protected class to state antidiscrimination laws and provides examples of such legislative efforts.