Two professors look at why advocates are using the language of medicine to frame and address civil rights concerns on the new episode of “Common Law,” a podcast of the University of Virginia School of Law.

In the season’s final episode, UVA Law professor Craig Konnoth and University of Pennsylvania law professor Karen Tani join host Dean Risa Goluboff to examine the impact of “medicalizing” civil rights and why policymakers have embraced the concept of disability in the late 20th century.

Konnoth, the Martha Lubin Karsh and Bruce A. Karsh Bicentennial Professor of Law at UVA, is an expert on health and civil rights, the regulation of health data and LGBT rights. He previously served as deputy solicitor general with the California Department of Justice and has recently served as a Greenwell Foundation Fellow.

Tani, the Seaman Family University professor at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, is a legal historian who frequently writes about the history of disability law in the late 20th century. Her research focuses on social welfare law, administrative agencies and the role of rights in the modern American state.

A starting point for the episode is Konnoth’s article “Medicalization and the New Civil Rights,” which examines the use of civil rights claims that rely on the language of medicine, such as the use of Medicaid funds to address homelessness or highlighting the psychological trauma of racial discrimination to seek institutional change.

Tani’s article with Jasmine Harris on “The Disability Frame,” which served as an introduction to a symposium on the same topic, looks at the impact and consequences of using disability as a lens to address social issues.

The podcast’s sixth season, called “Free Exchange,” features guests debating and discussing timely legal topics. The show is available on Apple PodcastsStitcherYouTubeSpotify and other popular podcast platforms. “Common Law” is produced by Emily Richardson-Lorente.

Past seasons have focused on “The Future of Law,” “When Law Changed the World,” “Law and Equity,” and “Co-Counsel” on seasons four and five.

You can follow the show on the website or Twitter at @CommonLawUVA.

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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