Civil and Human Rights

RELEASE: “WE DO NOT WANT TO BE HUNTED”

New scholarship explores the right to be secure and our constitutional story of race and policing

WASHINGTON – In the midst of continued nationwide protests against violent and discriminatory policing practices in the wake of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others, the Constitutional Accountability Center is releasing new scholarship that lays out our nation’s whole constitutional story of race and policing. This new study provides a unique and comprehensive account of the text, history, and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment’s limitations on policing, and chronicles the failure of the Supreme Court to apply the text, history, and values of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was written explicitly to protect people from intrusive and racist policing practices.

The Director of CAC’s Civil Rights, Human Rights, and Citizenship Program, David H. Gans, has written “We Do Not Want To Be Hunted”: The Right To Be Secure and Our Constitutional Story of Race and Policing, the seventh narrative in our “Text and History” series. This scholarship will appear next year in the Columbia Journal of Race and Law.

“David’s groundbreaking work couldn’t be more timely or more relevant to understanding America’s crisis of discriminatory and violent policing practices,” said CAC President Elizabeth Wydra. “As he explains clearly and vividly, for too long the Supreme Court has enabled the kind of malignant and unaccountable police practices that killed George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many more people known and unknown to the nation.”

CAC’s Gans continued, “The Supreme Court has never recognized that the Fourteenth Amendment was added to the Constitution against the backdrop of mass arrests and brutal racial violence by the police. Getting this history right is essential to correcting police abuses today. Explaining what the Constitution says about race and policing is critically important to this national moment. The Fourteenth Amendment puts race in the center of our constitutional story of policing. Police abuse, including indiscriminate searching and seizing, arbitrary arrests, police violence and killing, lies at the core of the Fourteenth Amendment’s history. The Supreme Court’s jurisprudence should be organized around this text and history. Instead, the Court has ignored it.” 

The argument presented in We Do Not Want To Be Hunted was previewed earlier this week in a piece by Gans published in The Atlantic, an article that received support from across the ideological spectrum—including from conservatives and libertarians such as Clark Neilly and Evan Bernick, and progressives including Demand Justice, David Johns, and Leslie Brueckner

“This kind of cross-ideological consensus on the original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment will be key to changing or opening minds on this momentous subject, from the grassroots to the Supreme Court itself,” CAC President Wydra said.

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Resources:

CAC Narrative: We Do Not Want To Be Hunted: The Right To Be Secure and Our Constitutional Story of Race and Policing, David H. Gans, July 23, 2020: https://www.theusconstitution.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/We_Do_Not_Want_To_Be_Hunted.pdf 

“The 14th Amendment Was Meant to Be a Protection Against State Violence,” The Atlantic, David H. Gans, July 19, 2020: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/07/14th-amendment-protection-against-state-violence/614317/

“The Supreme Court Enabled Horrific Police Violence by Ignoring Constitutional History,” Slate, David H. Gans, June 3, 2020: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/06/supreme-court-enabled-george-floyd-murder-police-violence.html

“To fulfill Martin Luther King’s Jr’s dream, we must address police racism and brutality,” The Sacramento Bee, January 20, 2020: https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/article239403228.html

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Constitutional Accountability Center is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history. Visit CAC’s website at www.theusconstitution.org.

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