to kill a mockingbird paper

to kill a mockingbird paper - POSC 130g Law Politics and...

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POSC 130g: Law, Politics, and Public Policy
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Cultural Constraints on Law: Societal Reform in To Kill A Mockingbird The application of law through the courts is one of the most fundamental methods of challenging social norms. Though controversial cases do not arise extremely often, each individual case can have an impact on a more community-based level. Courts, as seen by the Constrained Court view, “can never be effective producers of significant social reform” (Rosenberg). Cultural constraints, “limits on courts that stem from elite or public opinion,” are very relevant to the case presented in To Kill A Mockingbird , by Harper Lee, in which Atticus Finch, a well-respected member of society, defends an innocent black man against rape charges from a white woman. In this particular case, it is the word of a black man against the word of a white woman and her father. There are no eyewitnesses, so it is a particularly subjective case. Though racial prejudice in the community creates a significant constraint, the presence of the case itself creates a minor but groundbreaking societal shift. To Kill A Mockingbird challenges the argument that law cannot produce social change in a racist community. When Atticus Finch accepts the case of Tom Robinson, the black man accused of rape, he receives a fathom of criticism from the majority of the town members, and his children, Scout and Jem Finch, receive it too. Atticus steps outside the accepted racial boundaries, which raised a lot of eyebrows. This trial took place in Alabama, which of course is a very southern state, in geography and politics. It was highly unusual for a member of society as prominent as Atticus to willingly defend a black man in court. Yet, by defending Tom Robinson, Atticus starts the social divide, causing members of Maycomb, the town in which the Finch family resides, to pick sides. This isn’t entirely 2
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positive, but it brings forth an issue that needed to be addressed in the community. The
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to kill a mockingbird paper - POSC 130g Law Politics and...

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