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SUMMARY

  • 1. As a nation long filled with social inequality, the United States has also long had a legal system marked by inequality.
  • 2. During the colonial period and well into the nineteenth century, American law reinforced slavery and the near-genocide of Native Americans.
  • 3. Inequality in todays legal system based on race and ethnicity is less pronounced than in the past, but such inequality persists and stems largely from implicit bias by legal officials.
  • 4. Poor and low-income people suffer many disadvantages in the legal system, as they do in the larger society. These disadvantages stem from their lack of money and other problems associated with being poor. Unlike the wealthy, they cannot afford to hire skilled attorneys, and they lack other resources held by the wealthy.
  • 5. Women used to be legally unequal in many profound ways but today enjoy formal legal equality. However, the criminal justice system still often does not take seriously the violent victimization of women.
  • 6. Same-sex couples may now legally marry and engage in same-sex relations without fear of arrest. However, in the majority of states, they may still face discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.
 
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