Civil Disobedience and the Rule of Law: Punishing 'Good' Lawbreaking in a New Era of Protest

26 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2017 Last revised: 20 Dec 2017

Date Written: August 7, 2017

Abstract

Protest and arrest for acts of civil disobedience has emerged in recent years as a key tool for activists in social movements, including Black Lives Matter, women's rights, LGBT rights, and environmental protection. This article reviews the law and philosophy of civil disobedience, and in context of recent protest activism, argues that civil disobedience should not be considered a defense under the criminal law. Consistent with the intentions of the original practitioners of civil disobedience, activists in the new era of protest should welcome punishment for civil disobedience, for moral and tactical reasons.

Suggested Citation

Wilt, Michael, Civil Disobedience and the Rule of Law: Punishing 'Good' Lawbreaking in a New Era of Protest (August 7, 2017). George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal (CRLJ), Vol. 28, No. 1, 2017, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3014937

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