Hastings Women’s Law Journal


Lisa Haberman


This commentary discusses incest as a civil action authorized by the Thirteenth Amendment's prohibition of slavery. Slavery is the act of overcoming another person's personal power by fraud. It is a trespass on the living trust of another that usurps their inalienable right to self, or liberty. The illicit power exchange aggrandizes one at the expense of the other. The Thirteenth Amendment declared that slavery shall not exist in the United States. The Supreme Court then authorized Congress to legislate against private "discrimination that perpetuates the badges and incidents of slavery." In response, Congress enacted Title 42 Section 1983 of The United States Code, allowing civil actions for private civil rights violations. Incest is an invidious survivor of slavery in contemporary America. Like slavery, incest encompasses every physical, emotional, and spiritual interest of its victim. Both generate faulty belief systems that condition life responses manifested through future generations. Since incest is incidental to slavery, Constitutional protections should extend to incest survivors. State statutes of limitation on civil incest suits interfere with the entitlement of a legitimate expectation for justice, and are therefore unconstitutional.