Law and Social Movements

Capitalist society is supposedly based on the rule of law, but has relied on slavery, oppression of women, and constant rule breaking by the elites in order to continue. In the Trump era, this liberal mythology continues: donate to the ACLU, the Constitution will stop Trump, and judges will save immigrants from Trump's racism ( In reality, people have won and can only win and secure democratic rights for themselves through social movements. This panel will explore that history.

Megan Lessard is an organizer with New York City for Abortion Rights. She works in healthcare analytics. She will discuss how, with the demise of Roe v. Wade is on the horizon, the Left lacks a fighting, grassroots movement for abortion access and reproductive justice. She will look back at the radical health activism of the last century, from Redstockings to the Young Lords, to help us chart a way forward, beyond electoral politics and professionalized advocacy groups.

Lea Ramirez is a Xicana socialist, activist, and union member living in NYC. She is a co-host of Working Class Heroes, a narrative investigative journalism podcast that explores the lives, histories, politics and culture of working class “New YorQuinos.” She will be discussing an overview of immigration law and the impact that the immigrant rights movements has had on these laws. She will be also sharing her own experience in organizing an anti-deportation case as a rank and file union member in the legal service field.

Brian Sullivan is a labor activist, writer, and housing attorney. He lives and works in New York City. Focusing on a successful 2015 strike against a legal services provider in New York City, he will analyze the connection between the labor movement and the quality of legal representation that indigent clients receive.

Moderated by Mukund Rathi, a socialist and lawyer.

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