Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Gilles on Monroe v. Pape as Legal Noir

Myriam E. Gilles, Cardozo Law School, has posted a new essay, Police, Race and Crime in 1950s Chicago: Monroe v. Pape as Legal Noir, forthcoming in CIVIL RIGHTS STORIES, Risa Goluboff and Myriam Gilles, eds., Fall 2007. She writes:
Writ large, Monroe v. Pape is equal parts Richard Wright and Raymond Chandler. Or maybe, To Kill a Mockingbird meets Dirty Harry. A hard-boiled hero cop runs headlong into the wall dividing the post-Reconstruction century from the Warren Court; the Great Migration from the Civil Rights Movement. At the dawn of the 1960s, Chief of Detectives Frank Pape – famously known to Chicago beat writers as the “Toughest Cop In America” – goes from protector against civil unrest to violator of civil rights.
The casting is perfect. Frank Pape was the archetypal old-school cop....
[T]he story behind Monroe v. Pape is very much a period piece; the product of a very specific moment in American history. Mid-1950s marches on Little Rock, Montgomery and Selma trained the attention of the world on Jim Crow laws and the quest for basic equality. But as the decade drew to an end, sophisticated civil rights advocates and lawyers shifted their focus to America’s northern cities and the discriminatory treatment of blacks at the hands of urban police. It was becoming clear to many Americans that the Frank Papes of the world were not everybody’s heroes, and that the law and order for which they were lionized imposed radically disparate burdens, and conferred disparate benefits, on black and white city-dwellers. And so, with all of these elements in place, the stage was set for Monroe v. Pape.

Here is the SSRN abstract:
This essay will appear in Civil Rights Stories (Risa Goluboff and Myriam Gilles eds.), forthcoming Fall 2007. In it, I've tried to provide an historical background against which to understand the watershed civil rights case of Monroe v. Pape, where the Supreme Court gave an expansive interpretation to 42 U.S.C. Section 1983's under color of law clause. The goal of this essay is to generate a better understanding of the Monroe case itself - how the case came about and why represents an important, watershed moment in the history of civil rights litigation.

The full story can be found here.