Source: (2012) Law and Inequality. 30:91-124.

The belief that an essential relationship exists between law and justice has been recognized since the time of the ancient Greeks. In fact, the concept extends well beyond Western philosophy and jurisprudence. Distinct from other aspects of justice, the relationship between law and justice considers the nature of law and its dictates, as well as the responsibility of citizens to obey it. Although Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lacked the developed legal analysis of jurisprudence scholars, he made a meaningful contribution to the intellectual discourse of his time by forcing the discussion on broader society and centering it on racial segregation-a critical issue of his day. This Article places Dr. King's views of law and justice within a historic and contemporary context by exploring the theory of law and justice and how it shaped and inspired Dr. King's leadership of the Civil Rights Movement. The Article begins by addressing a consideration of the special relationship between "law and justice." It then explores the three philosophical commitments that formed Dr. King's vision of law and justice: American democratic principles, Personalism, and natural law. Lastly, this Article considers Dr. King's vision in comparison to two schools of critical jurisprudence: Critical Legal Studies and Critical Race Theory. Dr. King saw clear contradictions in the legal system that violated the demands of law and justice. This Article identifies and explores the valuable insights provided by Dr. King's vision of law and justice while still pointing out the oversights and contradictions present in it. (excerpt)