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Peter Gabel


Peter Gabel

Peter Gabel
Born (1947-01-28) January 28, 1947 (ageĀ 67)
Nationality American
Education Deerfield Academy
Harvard University (B.A.)(J.D.)
UC Berkeley (Ph.D.)
Parents Martin Gabel (Father)
Arlene Francis (Mother)

Peter Gabel, PhD (born January 28, 1947) is an American law academic and associate editor of Tikkun, a bi-monthly Jewish critique of politics, culture, and society and has written a number of articles for the magazine on subjects ranging from the original intent of the framers of the Constitution ("Founding Father Knows Best") to the creationism/evolution controversy ("Creationism and the Spirit of Nature"). Gabel was a founder of the Institute for Labor and Mental Health in Oakland, California and is close to the Critical Legal Studies movement. He has published more than a dozen articles in law journals such as the Harvard Law Review and Texas Law Review, focusing on the role of law in shaping popular consciousness and on how law can best be used to bring about progressive social change.[1]


Early life and education

Gabel is the only son of Arlene Francis and Martin Gabel. He graduated from Deerfield Academy, received his B.A. (1968) and J.D. (1972) from Harvard University, where he served as editor for the Harvard Lampoon, and received his Ph.D. from the Wright Institute in 1981.

As a teenager he worked as a guide for the 1964 New York World's Fair, a fact he revealed on the game show What's My Line?, where he appeared as a guest and stumped the panel, including his mother, Arlene Francis.[2][3]


Gabel taught law at Boalt Hall (the law school of the University of California, Berkeley) and at the University of Minnesota before becoming a law professor for 30 years at the community driven New College of California School of Law.[4] He also served as New College's president for 20 years. The college, founded in 1971, was an alternative school in the Mission District that offered undergraduate degrees as well as graduate degrees in psychology and law before its accreditation was revoked and the school was forced to close in June 2008.

Gabel is active in the Project for Integrating Spirituality, Law, and Politics, a group in the San Francisco Bay Area that: "will bring together law teachers, lawyers, and law students in the Bay Area who share our group's aspiration to connect the inner and the outer in a fundamental transformation of legal culture."[5] He is also strongly focused on communalizing the neighborhood in Noe Valley, San Francisco.[6] One of the group's successful actions was to save a small independent bookstore, Cover to Cover, which was hurt by a publishing slump. Gabel created a group email for neighbors who wanted to help and distributed fliers in the neighborhood, asking neighbors to sign a list pledging to buy a hardback book every month.[7]

Gabel is the bassist in Central Park Zoo, a dance band.[8]

Published works

  • The Redemptive Power of Law: Finding Spiritual Meaning in Legal Culture and Using it to Create a Better World (New York University Press, 2007)
  • The Bank Teller and Other Essays on the Politics of Meaning (Acada Books/New College of California Press, 2000)
  • (Tikkun magazine, March/April 1992)
  • The Phenomenology of Rights-Consciousness and the Pact of the Withdrawn Selves, 62 Tex. L. Rev. 1563 (1984).
  • Duncan Kennedy).
  • Book Review of Ronald Dworkin, Taking Rights Seriously, 91 Harv. L. Rev. 302 (1977).


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