San Diego Law Review

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type



Whether the Court, let alone the electorate, has the political will to start down this path is another question. But I remind myself that Dr. King did not despair in his Birmingham jail cell, that Ruth Bader Ginsburg did not despair when asked by the Dean of the Harvard Law School why she was taking a place from a man, and that Evan Wolfson did not despair when the high Court declared that any claim of a constitutional right to private sex between consenting adults was “at best, facetious.”

Ever since abolitionism, the heroes of every American civil rights movement have all had at least one good reason to reject despair: The success of their predecessors. In America, tomorrow is always vital with the prospect of redemption, however distant that prospect may appear. We must visualize the prospect of redemption for each of us—even for those of us who have transgressed the criminal law. For until we can visualize redemption for each of us, we will never fully realize redemption for all of us, bound together, as we surely are, in a political community scarred from birth by the original sin of slavery.