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University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Equal protection

2016

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What Gideon Did, Sara Mayeux Jan 2016

What Gideon Did, Sara Mayeux

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Many accounts of Gideon v. Wainwright’s legacy focus on what Gideon did not do—its doctrinal and practical limits. For constitutional theorists, Gideon imposed a preexisting national consensus upon a few “outlier” states, and therefore did not represent a dramatic doctrinal shift. For criminal procedure scholars, advocates, and journalists, Gideon has failed, in practice, to guarantee meaningful legal help for poor people charged with crimes.

Drawing on original historical research, this Article instead chronicles what Gideon did—the doctrinal and institutional changes it inspired between 1963 and the early 1970s. Gideon shifted the legal profession’s policy consensus on ...