The past decade has been a period of intensive reevaluation of the law. The criminal law, in particular, has been subjected to an especially intensive criticism. These attacks fall largely into two categories: criticisms of the legitimacy of our penal codes, and criticisms of their efficiency.
Starting with the Civil Rights Movement of the Kennedy era with its heavy emphasis on civil disobedience as a tool of protest, the legitimacy of many of our laws was called into question. When Rosa Parks sat in the front of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama, she was not simply breaking the law; she was pointing to a law that had no right to be. The mass protests against the Vietnam War similarly were declarations of the demonstrators' belief that the War and the laws which supported it were wrong and illegitimate. Recent minority group protests such as the Gay Liberation Movement and the campaign for equal rights for women again are protests against laws that some groups feel are unfair and unjust.