Statement of Commissioner Gail Heriot

26 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2020

See all articles by Gail L. Heriot

Gail L. Heriot

American Civil Rights Project; U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; Manhattan Institute

Date Written: 2020


On April 6, 2020, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights published a long-delayed report entitled Examining the Race Effects of Stand Your Ground Laws and Related Issues. This Statement is a part of that report.

The report is unusual in the sense that (apart from individual Commissioner Statements) it consists solely of a five year-old briefing transcript. It contains no original analysis, findings or recommendations.

It was not supposed to be that way. When the Commission undertook this project, the plan was for the Commission to conduct empirical research on “Stand Your Ground” laws and to produce a report containing both that research and a discussion of “Stand Your Ground” laws based in part on the testimony produced at the briefing but also on the Commission staff’s independent research. Alas, when the empirical research did not support the preconceived view of the Commission’s majority that “Stand Your Ground” laws harm African Americans, the project was shelved. Years later—at a time the Commission was interested in getting out as many reports as possible—it decided to publish a transcript of the briefing along with Commissioner Statements. After almost two further years of delay, the report was finally published.

This individual Statement details how the Commission did not understand long history of “Stand Your Ground” laws and misconceived their racial impact.

Keywords: Stand Your Ground, Commission On Civil Rights, Self Defense, Trayvon Martin, Civil Rights, Self Defense, Castle Doctrine, Duty To Retreat.

JEL Classification: K10

Suggested Citation

Heriot, Gail L., Statement of Commissioner Gail Heriot (2020). San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 20-442, Available at SSRN: or

Gail L. Heriot (Contact Author)

American Civil Rights Project ( email )

P.O. Box 12207
Dallas, TX 75225
United States


U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Suite 1150
Washington, DC 20425

Manhattan Institute ( email )

52 Vanderbilt Avenue
New York, NY 10017
United States

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