The Sovereign Market and Sex Difference: Human Rights in America
Fall 2017 Legal History Workshop
- Amy Dru Stanley
Associate Professor of History and LawUniversity of Chicago
This essay explores the legal and moral perplexities posed by acts of Congress that connect vindications of the rights of persons to the free flow of commerce, tracing how the American nation-state has made human wellbeing commensurate with the exchange of goods across state borders. It focuses on wrongs of sex, addressing both statutory and case law, and illuminating the relationship between the limits of the Thirteenth Amendment and the reach of the Commerce Clause. For a century, Congress has invoked the commerce power in legislating against women’s subjection—from the ban on white slave trafficking to the ban on violence against women—making the flow of trade a source of protection against violations of free will and invasions of the body. As a consequence, the essay argues, rules of the market economy have come to penetrate ever more deeply into social existence, and the antislavery distinction between persons and things has eroded.
Note: This is a discussion based workshop of work-in-progress with the expectation that those attending have read the workshop materials. Please contact Jacquelyn E. Burt at email@example.com for a copy of the materials.