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Vice: Behind the Scenes of the Legal Group That Could Change America’s Definition of Sexual Consent

October 24, 2016 — 

Professor Neil McArthur writes an op-ed for Vice about a group that could change America’s definition of sexual consent.

Next week, on October 24th, some of America’s finest legal minds will gather in New York to debate the draft of a law defining sexual assault and determining how severely it should be punished. The debate has taken place almost entirely out of the public eye, and though this group—who are all members of an organization called the American Law Institute (ALI)—are not working for any government, the law they produce could serve as a model for courts and state legislatures for decades.

Not many people have heard of the American Law Institute. But for over half a century, it has been one of the most influential forces shaping US law. In 1962 it produced theModel Penal Code, a comprehensive system of laws that was meant to reflect the view of the nation’s best legal thinking on what an ideal criminal code should look like. Since its appearance, nearly every state has used its provisions as guides in reforming at least some aspects of its criminal law, and the code has been cited in thousands of court decisions.

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