THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT, RACIAL JUSTICE, AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING
(LAWC-4060) - 2 UNITS
Without passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished chattel slavery in 1865, contemporary U.S. laws against human trafficking would not exist. Section Two of the Thirteenth Amendment empowered Congress to enact legislation to enforce its prohibition of slavery and involuntary servitude "except as punishment for a crime." Thereafter, Congress and courts interpreted Section Two to permit legislation that banned forms of unfree labor that arose after the Civil War, such as peonage, indentured servitude and human trafficking. Yet, the as important, but implied purpose of Section Two, to also eliminate the "badges and incidents" of slavery - the systems that sustain race-based economic subordination - has been often overlooked. One need only open their eyes to the current realities of institutionalized racism, racialized violence and unfreedom experienced by Black Americans in particular, to see that the Thirteenth Amendment did not accomplish its full purpose.
This seminar takes a deep dive into Thirteenth Amendment doctrine and jurisprudence to understand its scope, limitations and modern-day applications. While passage of the Thirteenth Amendment launched the significant, albeit short-lived period of Reconstruction, it was quickly followed by laws that sustained white supremacy by subordinating newly freed slaves and exploiting migrants of color for their labor. Examination of this historical, social, political and legal context informs critiques of human trafficking policies and practices today. The vast majority of trafficked persons whether for labor and/or sex; citizen or noncitizen; youth or adult; male, female or nonbinary; are poor people of color. They are disproportionately victimized by human trafficking, yet also disproportionately criminalized by overpolicing and overenforcement of immigration restrictions. This seminar requires critical engagement with the antecedents of contemporary human trafficking laws to identify strategies that overcome systemic racism in anti-trafficking lawyering. The course will draw from Thirteenth Amendment related cases and laws as well as influential scholarship on the Thirteenth Amendment, racial justice and human trafficking. Class participation and discussion is mandatory. Students will research and write a final paper that addresses a topic of their choosing, related to the themes raised in the class. The final paper will be graded and can satisfy the Upper Division Writing Requirement.
Admission is by permission of the instructor. Students interested in enrolling in the course should send a brief email to Professor Kim explaining why they are interested. No more than fifteen students will be admitted.