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Red-Blue Divide’s Effect on Criminal Law

January 25, 2024

Paul Robinson
Paul Robinson

Prof. Paul H. Robinson writes that “the evidence suggests that there are not red codes and blue codes — and more importantly, there never will be.”

At The Hill, Paul H. Robinson, Colin S. Diver Professor of Law, explores whether political divisions among states affect the formulation of criminal law rules.

A member of the American Law Institute, Robinson is one of the world’s leading criminal law scholars. A prolific writer and lecturer, he is the author of Confronting Failures of Justice: Getting Away with Murder and Rape (Rowman & Littlefield, forthcoming 2024), with Jeffrey Seaman and Muhammad Sarahne. 

From The Hill:

The U.S. appears to be increasingly politically divided between “red states” and “blue states,” to the point that many serious public voices on both sides are urging that the country seriously consider separating along a red-blue divide.

A range of stark public disagreements over criminal law issues have fed the secession movement. Consider obvious examples such as abortion, decriminalization of marijuana, “stand your ground” statutes, the death penalty and concealed weapon carry laws. Are red and blue values so fundamentally different that we ought to recognize a reality in which there exists red codes and blue codes?

A recent study tried to answer this question by examining the criminal codes of the six largest deep-red states and the six largest deep-blue states — that is, states in which a single political party has held the governorship and control of both legislative bodies for at least the past three elections. It then identified 93 legal issues on which there appeared to be meaningful differences among the 12 states’ criminal law rules.

An analysis of the patterns of agreement and disagreement among the 12 states was striking… . 

Read the full piece at The Hill.