January 17, 2011
Capers on Suk on the Home
There is a new vision of home that is beginning to gain ascendance, at least from the point of view of legal actors and doctrine in the criminal justice system. Under this vision, home is not always, or even usually, “sweet.” Under this new vision, the home is not a safe haven, inviolate and inviolable except for, perhaps, a burglar. Under this new vision, the home is a place of violence. And not violence perpetrated by intruders, but by co-habitants. The home, notionally a site of security, a place “safe” from outside intervention, now functions as a place that enables abuse, assault, and rape. It is the exemplary place of coercion. The home, in this re-vision, has metastasized into the scene of the crime. In short, home has become “where the crime is.”
What are we to make of this shift in how the law perceives the home, and how we perceive the home? What are the collateral consequences of this shift? These are the questions Jeannie Suk takes up in her provocative At Home in the Law. This Review assesses Suk’s claims critically, turns to some of the collateral effects of this shift that Suk elides, and switches lenses to reveal a larger, more troubling picture.
The review--as well as Suk's prizewinning book--doesn't focus on land use per se as much as family law, domestic violence, and privacy. But as we all know, the concept of the home plays a huge role in the law and politics of land use, and both of these works reflect some very siginificant thinking about the meaning of the home in American culture and law.
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