Robert L. Tsai


Practical Equality:
Forging Justice in a Divided Nation

in conversation with NOAH FELDMAN

This event includes a book signing


February 20, 2019
7:00 PM


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store and Mass Humanities welcome constitutional law expert and American University professor ROBERT L. TSAI for a discussion of his latest book, Practical Equality: Forging Justice in a Divided Nation. He will be joined in conversation by Harvard Law School professor NOAH FELDMAN.

About Practical Equality

Equality is easy to grasp in theory but often hard to achieve in reality. In this accessible and wide–ranging work, American University law professor Robert L. Tsai offers a stirring account of how legal ideas that aren’t necessarily about equality at all―ensuring fair play, behaving reasonably, avoiding cruelty, and protecting free speech―have often been used to overcome resistance to justice and remain vital today.

Practical Equality is an original and compelling book on the intersection of law and society. Tsai, a leading expert on constitutional law who has written widely in the popular press, traces challenges to equality throughout American history: from the oppression of emancipated slaves after the Civil War to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II to President Trump’s ban on Muslim travelers. He applies lessons from these and other past struggles to such pressing contemporary issues as the rights of sexual minorities and the homeless, racism in the criminal justice system, police brutality, voting restrictions, oppressive measures against migrants, and more.

Deeply researched and well argued, Practical Equality offers a sense of optimism and a guide to pursuing equality for activists, lawyers, public officials, and concerned citizens.


“Despite raging controversies, it still remains possible for the Supreme Court to bring Americans together rather than drive them further apart. Robert Tsai brilliantly describes great Court decisions of the past which engaged in such bridge-building exercises, setting precedents for future Justices to follow if they hope to sustain broad public support.” —Bruce Ackerman, author of We the People

“In this at once provocative and sensible book, Robert Tsai shows us that in the never-ending struggle for equality, progress is sometimes more effectively achieved indirectly.” —David Cole, National Legal Director, ACLU, and author of Engines of Liberty

“How do you fight for social change during periods of reaction or when structures of injustice are deeply entrenched? Robert Tsai’s Practical Equality beautifully wrestles with this dilemma and with the everyday political challenge of defending the principle of equality under less than ideal circumstances. The result is a work of striking political and legal imagination, an essential book with critical insights for activists, scholars, and lawyers.” —Aziz Rana, author of The Two Faces of American Freedom

Noah Feldman
Noah Feldman

Noah Feldman

Noah Feldman is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. In 2003 he served as senior constitutional advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. Selected as a Rhodes Scholar, he earned a D.Phil. in Oriental Studies from Oxford University in 1994. He received his J.D. from Yale Law School in 1997. He is the author of eight books: The Three Lives of James Madison, Cool War, Scorpions, The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State, Divided by God, What We Owe Iraq, and After Jihad. He most recently co-authored Constitutional Law, Eighteenth Edition with Kathleen Sullivan.

Robert L. Tsai
Robert L. Tsai

Robert L. Tsai

Robert L. Tsai is professor of law at American University. He is the author of America’s Forgotten Constitutions: Defiant Visions of Power and Community (2014), and his essays have appeared in Boston Globe, Washington Post, Los Angeles Review of Books, Politico, Boston Review, and Slate. Tsai received the Elizabeth Payne Cubberly Scholarship Award in 2010. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his family.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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Co-Sponsored by Mass Humanities

Mass Humanities

Mass Humanities conducts and supports programs that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life in Massachusetts. Learn more at

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