CLEAR Perspectives | Devon Carbado, Unreasonable: Black Lives, Police Power, and the Fourth Amendment

by School of Law

Workshop Law - Alumni Law - CLEAR Law - General Public Law - Students

Thu, Feb 23, 2023

5:30 PM – 7 PM PST (GMT-8)

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UCI Law, Law 3750

401 E. Peltason Drive, Suite 1000, Irvine, CA 92697-8000, United States

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The UCI Center on Law, Equality, and Race (CLEAR) hosts a Perspectives reading group discussion of Devon Carbado's book, Unreasonable: Black Lives, Police Power, and the Fourth Amendment (The New Press, 2022).

Discussion will focus on the Introduction and Chapters 2 & 5.

Publisher's Description:

“The Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Fourth Amendment over the past five decades has allocated enormous power to police officers—the power to surveil, the power to racially profile, the power to stop-and-frisk, and the power to kill.” —Devon W. Carbado, from Unreasonable

The summer of 2020 will be remembered as an unprecedented, watershed moment in the struggle for racial equality. Published on the second anniversary of the global protests over the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Unreasonable is a groundbreaking investigation of the role that the law—and the U.S. Constitution—play in the epidemic of police violence against Black people.

In this crucially timely book, celebrated legal scholar Devon W. Carbado explains how the Fourth Amendment became ground zero for regulating police conduct—more important than Miranda warnings, the right to counsel, equal protection and due process. Fourth Amendment law determines when and how the police can make arrests, and it determines the precarious line between stopping Black people and killing Black people.

A leading light in the critical race studies movement, Carbado looks at how that text, in the last four decades, has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to protect police officers, not African Americans; how it sanctions search and seizure as well as profiling; and how it has become, ultimately, an amendment of life and death.

Accessible, radical, and essential reading, Unreasonable sheds light on a rarely understood dimension of today’s most pressing issue.

The CLEAR Perspectives series serves as an informal setting where students and faculty can examine issues of concern to marginalized individuals and communities. At each meeting, discussion will be informed and guided by specific readings or films focusing on a particular issue or demographic.

To request reasonable accommodations for a disability, please email


UCI Law, Law 3750

401 E. Peltason Drive, Suite 1000, Irvine, CA 92697-8000, United States