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Restitution Claims for Wrongful Enslavement and the Doctrine of the Master’s Good Faith

Restitution Claims for Wrongful Enslavement and the Doctrine of the Master’s Good Faith

Chapter:
(p.44) 2 Restitution Claims for Wrongful Enslavement and the Doctrine of the Master’s Good Faith
Source:
The Construction of Whiteness
Author(s):
Robert Westley
Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781496805553.003.0003

This chapter begins with the suggestion made by Judge Posner in his opinion for the majority in the case of In re African-American Slave Descendants Litigation to the effect that the injuries exacted by slavery were imposed on the slaves alone, and thus provide no standing to their descendants to sue for restitution of their ancestors’ injuries. Legal procedural doctrines such as standing or time limits or sovereign immunity have successfully blocked consideration by courts of contemporary claims for slavery reparations. In light of conflicting views about the significance of temporality, it has become clear that part of the challenge of understanding contemporary whiteness practices was to make a constructive return to their foundational moments during slavery, to determine what discourses governed the allocation of restitution in both law and equity when enslavement was acknowledged in some cases to have been wrongful, and no procedural doctrines blocked consideration of restitution on the merits.

Keywords:   African American Slave Descendants Litigation, Restitution, Slavery reparations, Contemporary whiteness, Legal procedural doctrines

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