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Professors Jessica Bulman-Pozen and David Pozen (BP&P) strikingly identify and intriguingly elaborate a new category of political dissent, uncivil obedience, which they propose serves as a complement to the better-known political category civil disobedience. Civil disobedience familiarly involves law-breaking that aims not at impunity but rather legal reform and thus arises in the context of respect for the legal system as a whole. Uncivil obedience, by contrast, pursues change through hypercompliance with the law and may (although it need not) reflect disregard for the law. Uncivil obedience thus involves, as BP&P say, “subversive law-following.” BP&P suggest that uncivil obedience poses a principled challenge to the present U.S. political order that equals the principled challenge posed by civil disobedience a half century ago, and they predict that uncivil obedience will in coming years acquire a practical prominence to match its theoretical interest.
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