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Columbia Law Review


Victims of historical injustices who have no positive law claim against wrongdoers often seek reparations from governments, and occasionally they obtain them. The best known reparations programs are those for Japanese Americans who were interned by the United States government during World War II, and for victims of the Nazi Holocaust. But there are several other less well known programs both in the United States and abroad, and there are countless proposals for new reparations programs, including a proposal for slave reparations in the United States. The moral and political arguments for and against reparations in diverse contexts have received considerable attention, but problems of legal and institutional design have received almost none. This paper fills the gap in the literature by analyzing the various design options for reparations programs, their legal and constitutional bases, and their relationship to the standard moral and political arguments about reparations.

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