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Breaking the Divide: Setting Environmental Precedent in the Chicago River
Law & Policy  (IF1.432),  Pub Date : 2019-09-13, DOI: 10.1111/lapo.12137
Jordan Besek, Daniel Shtob

Here we argue that sociolegal processes can not only restructure social relationships through setting legal precedent but can also restructure socioenvironmental relationships through setting what we call “environmental precedent.” By environmental precedent we mean the environmental consequences of legal processes, environmental consequences that then become the new, dynamic material reality for future legal processes. We apply the concept of environmental precedent to a legal history of the Chicago River, using this case to illustrate how interactions between sociolegal and environmental processes can set environmental precedent in a way that reshuffles the social and material foundations of future legal processes.