Paola Valerio

Between subjectivities and social justice in US private law: the role of the Supreme Court

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Several recent US Supreme Court decisions concerning private autonomy, labor law, property rights and punitive damages reveal a tendency to favor the interests of the wealthy disregarding well-established precedents, strong legal arguments, and serious social justice issues. This paper explores the connections between the Court’s past leanings and its current positions on the above-mentioned matters, discussing its role in the confinement of socially and economically disadvantaged individuals in artificial, impassable subjectivities, and thus illustrating that private law may indeed represent a valuable tool to enable equal opportunities and dignity, despite being too often maneuvered to intensify inequality. Eminent studies referred to in the closing remarks explain why the positions criticized hereby may reflect merely minority ideals that prove inconsistent with emancipation purposes and fall short of addressing crucial challenges.


  • United States
  • Social Justice
  • Private Law
  • Property
  • Punitive Damages


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