By Any Means Necessary: Using Violence and Subversion to Change Unjust Law


There remains law in the United States that discriminates against African Americans. Important legal advancements in racial justice in the United States historically have been accomplished by tactics that included subversion and violence. This Article evaluates the use of subversion and violence to change contemporary law perceived as discriminatory, when traditional methods are ineffective or too slow. It applies just war theory to determine whether radical tactics are morally justified to defeat certain U.S. criminal laws. This Article recommends an application of the doctrine of just war for nongovernmental actors. In light of considerable evidence that the death penalty and federal cocaine sentencing laws discriminate against African Americans, subversion-including lying by prospective jurors to get on juries in death penalty and cocaine cases-is morally justified. Limited violence is also morally justified, under just war theory, to end race-based executions. Those concerned about morality should not, however, use "any means necessary" to defeat race discrimination. Minorities must tolerate some discrimination, even if they know they have the power to end it.

About the Author

Professor of Law, George Washington University. B.A., Yale; J.D., Harvard

By uclalaw