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With the approach of the fiftieth anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, Matthew Adler's continuous prioritarian social welfare economic theory provides an interesting new resource for advocates of public defense reform. Adler argues for a moral decision-making procedure in large-scale policy settings that prioritizes the interests of the less well-off. This essay identifies some key steps in Adler's analysis, highlights several avenues for critique and further development of his arguments, and begins to explore the doctrinal development of the right to counsel as an instantiation of his inequality-averse approach to moral decision-making.


This article was published in 11 Seattle J. Soc. Just. 1025 (2013).