The Yale Law Journal

Critical Legal Studies


When the Sovereign Contracts: Troubling the Public/Private Distinction in International Law

Kate Yoon

The distinction between a state’s public and private acts is flimsy and unclear. Choosing to see an act as essentially private or public often obscures the other features that complicate that characterization. And selectively recognizing the private aspects of transactions has disproportionately sub…


Prisons as Laboratories of Antidemocracy

Brandon Hasbrouck

Jeffrey Bellin's Mass Incarceration Nation robustly analyzes how state and federal policies have combined to drive up prison populations. Mass incarceration represents a failure of democracy, but the repressive policies of American prisons represent an even graver threat as laboratories of antidemoc…


(Re)Framing Race in Civil Rights Lawyering

Angela Onwuachi-Willig & Anthony V. Alfieri

This Review examines the significance of Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s new book, Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow, for the study of racism in our nation’s legal system and for the regulation of race in the legal profession.


The Punishment Bureaucracy: How to Think About “Criminal Justice Reform”

Alec Karakatsanis

The “criminal justice reform” movement is in danger. Efforts to change the punishment bureaucracy are at risk of being co-opted by bureaucrats who have created and profited from mass human caging. This Essay seeks to understand the true functions of the punishment bureaucracy and to offer suggestion…


Beyond the Critique of Rights: The Puerto Rico Legal Project and Civil Rights Litigation in America’s Colony

Valeria M. Pelet del Toro

In the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Puerto Ricans were faced with a stark reminder of their second-class citizenship. This Note traces the development of the island’s civil rights movement through the little-known history of the Puerto Rico Legal Project, revealing the power (and limits) of ri…