Final Legal 250 - Dennis Lynch Professor Diana Yoon Legal...

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Dennis Lynch Professor Diana Yoon Legal Studies 250 11 December 2009 Law has historically been used to uphold social values and principles since its inception. The entire purpose of law is to set rules for socially acceptable conduct in a society and to maintain a good moral order among the people, as well as strike down any immorality that could arise. Sometimes however, law is what establishes these very immoral institutions in the first place. This makes it extremely hard to create change in an establishment that supports exactly what one strives to change. Despite the difficulty of challenging social norms, social reformists and advocates often fight for the rights of oppressed minorities and use the very fabric of oppression to fight inequalities. On the surface, our legal institutions uphold the norm and enforce current legal and social values, maintaining a conservative edge. At the same time, it is being able to find holes in, use, and interpret that very legal institution that makes us able to create change and in turn influence social norms. Laws can be directly used to facilitate social change. The Freedom Rides are a perfect example of a coordinated move to act in order to force the proper authorities to abide by their own laws, and make a radical conscious raising statement. The coordinators of the Rides set them up so that buses would leave Washington, D.C. bound for New Orleans, run directly through the Deep South where racial tensions were at their highest, and by the ruling in Boynton v. Virginia force local authorities to protect them from racial attacks. Boynton v. Virginia was a case where an African-American man sat down in a white section of a diner during a stop by an interstate public passenger bus. He was instructed to leave, but wouldn’t, and was subsequently arrested. He was convicted of trespassing on a property where the owner had forbidden him to do so by way of 18-225 of the Code of Virginia of 1950, as amended (1958) 1 . The Supreme Court 1
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reversed the decision, citing it was in violation of the Interstate Commerce Act, which forbade segregation in interstate passenger transportation. The Riders planned to test this ruling. By way of the Interstate Commerce Act, authorities were forced to protect them, albeit it was not very good protection, it was a statement nonetheless. There is no question to the social change the Freedom Rides and other civil rights undertakings they occurred along with brought about, and had it not been for these direct uses of law, the civil rights movement could have been delayed for the foreseeable future. Law is many times a catalyst for social change in itself, especially in a country as culturally diverse as our America. Law is an institution that applies itself to all people under it, no matter their race, sex, creed, etc. It is a common denominator to all citizens in the United States, and so brings us all together under one commonality. Kenneth Karst argues this very point
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Final Legal 250 - Dennis Lynch Professor Diana Yoon Legal...

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