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Law and Race Commons

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Civil Rights and Discrimination

Affirmative action

Columbia Law School

Publication Year

Articles 1 - 4 of 4

Full-Text Articles in Law and Race

The "Inexorable Zero", Bert I. Huang Jan 2004

The "Inexorable Zero", Bert I. Huang

Faculty Scholarship

[F]ine tuning of the statistics could not have obscured the glaring absence of minority [long-distance] drivers .... [T]he company's inability to rebut the inference of discrimination came not from a misuse of statistics but from "the inexorable zero."

The Supreme Court first uttered the phrase "inexorable zero" a quarter-century ago in International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. United States, a landmark Title VII case. Ever since, this enigmatic name for a rule of inference has echoed across legal argument about segregation, discrimination, and affirmative action. Justice O'Connor, for instance, cited the "inexorable zero" in a major sex discrimination ...


The "Inexorable Zero", Bert I. Huang Jan 2004

The "Inexorable Zero", Bert I. Huang

Faculty Scholarship

For over a quarter century, legal arguments about segregation, discrimination, and affirmative action have invoked the image of the "inexorable zero" – complete absence of any women or minorities at a given school or workplace. Yet as evocative as the phrase might be, its precise doctrinal import has remained elusive. This Note recounts the original use of the concept in a landmark Title VII case and documents a current circuit split. It then articulates theoretical grounds upon which the concept’s intuitive appeal might rest. Finally, it excavates a further, more complex rationale that the Supreme Court may have contemplated at ...


Rethinking Racial Profiling: A Critique Of The Economics, Civil Liberties, And Constitutional Literature, And Of Criminal Profiling More Generally, Bernard Harcourt Jan 2004

Rethinking Racial Profiling: A Critique Of The Economics, Civil Liberties, And Constitutional Literature, And Of Criminal Profiling More Generally, Bernard Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

New reporting requirements and data collection efforts by over four hundred law enforcement agencies across the country – including entire states such as Maryland, Missouri, and Washington – are producing a continuous flow of new evidence on highway police searches. For the most part, the data consistently show disproportionate searches of African-American and Hispanic motorists in relation to their estimated representation on the road. Economists, civil liberties advocates, legal and constitutional scholars, political scientists, lawyers, and judges are poring over the new data and reaching, in many cases, quite opposite conclusions about racial profiling.


Rethinking Racial Profiling: A Critique Of The Economics, Civil Liberties, And Constitutional Literature, And Of Criminal Profiling More Generally, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2003

Rethinking Racial Profiling: A Critique Of The Economics, Civil Liberties, And Constitutional Literature, And Of Criminal Profiling More Generally, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

New data on highway stops and searches from across the country have spawned renewed debate over racial profiling on the roads. The new data reveal consistently disproportionate searches of minority motorists, but, very often, an equal or lower general success rate – or "hit rate" – associated with those searches. Economists are developing new models of racial profiling to test whether the data are consistent with policing efficiency or racial prejudice, and argue that equal hit rates reflect that the police are maximizing the success rate of their searches. Civil liberties advocates are scrutinizing the same data and, in most cases, reaching ...