Strange Traffic: Sex, Slavery & the Freedom Principle
39 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2013 Last revised: 16 Apr 2013
Date Written: February 19, 2013
This article uses the recent prosecution of a sex trafficking case in rural Missouri to argue three points. One, the federal law of trafficking is currently being used in unanticipated ways, including the apprehension of individuals who pay for sex. Two, trafficking invites creative use precisely because it provides prosecutors with a more salient justification for punishment than either legal moralism or harm; a rhetorical plea to anti-slavery that enjoys a longstanding but under-theorized role in criminal law rhetoric. Three, anti-slavery’s recurrence in criminal law rhetoric underscores a larger doctrinal point, namely that H.L.A. Hart’s version of the harm principle missed its subordinate relationship to what J.S. Mill termed the principle of freedom.
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