Authorde Haas, Michelle

About This Special Issue

In the fall of 2020, we presented members of the Queens Law faculty with the opportunity to reflect on the myriad of ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic and the law have intersected. This special issue is a product of that reflection and suggests, in true professorial fashion, that when it comes to the question of how the pandemic has impacted various aspects of the law, the answer is: "it depends".

In offering this opportunity, we had two main goals. The first was to provide an avenue for scholarly reflection on the pandemic and the law in a manner that would be accessible to a wider audience and draw on the breadth of expertise that exists within the faculty of law. The second was to nurture the sense of community and collegiality between faculty and students that makes the Queens Law experience unique. For over a year, students and professors have been out of physical classrooms and forced to learn and teach remotely. While this change was necessary, it created the possibility of a disconnect between teachers and pupils. To mitigate this potential scenario, we encouraged professors to co-author their essays with students.

We have grouped this collection into three categories. The essays in the first category take a theoretical perspective in analyzing the pandemic as an emergency. The pieces in the second category examine the repercussions the pandemic has had on pre-existing social ills. The final category contains essays that discuss some of the practical implications the pandemic has had on the day-to-day operating of the legal system.

  1. The Pandemic as an Emergency

    Professor Ashwini Vasanthakumar examines the apparent tension between the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests that arose during the summer of 2020. While a pandemic urges, and sometimes requires, people to stay at home, political protests often rely on mass congregations of people. Vasanthakumar contends that this perceived tension is a product of urgency bias. She asserts that the coalescence of the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests reveals ways in which emergencies and structural injustice are intertwined.

    Drawing on Lon Fuller's parable of King Rex, Victoria Carmichael and Professor Gregoire Webber examine the pandemic through the lens of Fuller's desiderata of the rule of law. They argue that while some government responses to the pandemic may not have met rule of law criteria, these departures may be justified in a...

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