November 19, 2021

Rittenhouse Verdict Emblematic of Systemic Issues In Our Legal System


Contact: Pablo Willis,   

Washington, DCToday, President of the American Constitution Society Russ Feingold released the following statement on the not guilty verdict in the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse.  

We must remember that this trial occurred because two people were shot and killed, and a third was injured. Today’s not guilty verdict is a troubling symptom of deeply rooted issues within our nation’s legal system,” said ACS President Russ Feingold. “Firearms, particularly assault-type firearms like the one involved in this case, have no place on our streets. As this case demonstrates, they lead to violence, rather than prevent it. There were 611 mass shootings in 2020, and already more than that in 2021. In the context of a country beset by mass shootings, when present and brandished in public—particularly during protests against anti-Black racism, which are frequently the target of violent rhetoric, incitement to violence, and actual violence—guns are inherently provocative and threatening; attempting to disarm a gunman is a rational response. 

In this context, a gunman’s successful self-defense claim prioritizes the interests of white power structures to maintain historic racial hierarchies through armed intimidation and the threat of unaccountable physical violence. Allowing these weapons to be publicly brandished—let alone used without penalty against those with whom one disagrees—chills and thereby undermines civil liberties, including freedom of speech and assembly.”




ACS believes that the Constitution is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” We interpret the Constitution based on its text and against the backdrop of history and lived experience. Through a diverse nationwide network of progressive lawyers, law students, judges, scholars, and many others, we work to uphold the Constitution in the 21st Century by ensuring that law is a force for protecting our democracy and the public interest and for improving people’s lives. For more information, visit us at or on Twitter @acslaw.