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The Rhetorical Allure Of Post-Racial Process Discourse And The Democratic Myth, Cedric Merlin Powell 2018 SJ Quinney College of Law, University of Utah

The Rhetorical Allure Of Post-Racial Process Discourse And The Democratic Myth, Cedric Merlin Powell

Utah Law Review

We are witnessing the power of distorted and neutral rhetoric that rings with deceptive clarity. This post-racial process discourse is advanced on many levels: in political discourse, by a distrustful citizenry energized by hateful rhetoric that appeals to their concerns of being “left behind” on the basis of “preferences” for minorities that diminish America’s “greatness,” and a Court that seeks to constitutionalize a mythic democracy that promises participation while implicitly endorsing structural exclusion.

Voter initiatives should not determine the substantive core of the Fourteenth Amendment. While democratic participation is essential to our Republic, decisions like Schuette perpetuate a democratic ...


Distant Voices Then And Now: The Impact Of Isolation On The Courtroom Narratives Of Slave Ship Captives And Asylum Seekers, Tara Patel 2018 University of Michigan Law School

Distant Voices Then And Now: The Impact Of Isolation On The Courtroom Narratives Of Slave Ship Captives And Asylum Seekers, Tara Patel

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

Part I compares the nineteenth century cases of the Antelope and the Amistad to identify why they resulted in different outcomes despite having similar fact patterns. The Antelope concerned the fate of approximately 280 African captives discovered on a slave trade ship upon its interception by a U.S. revenue cutter. Since the slave trade in the United States was illegal at the time, the captives were transported to Savannah for trial through which their status—free or slave—would be determined. After a lengthy trial and appeals process in which Spain and Portugal laid claim to the captives, the ...


Fairness In The Exceptions: Trusting Juries On Matters Of Race, Virginia Weeks 2018 University of Michigan Law School

Fairness In The Exceptions: Trusting Juries On Matters Of Race, Virginia Weeks

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

Implicit bias research indicates that despite our expressly endorsed values, Americans share a pervasive bias disfavoring Black Americans and favoring White Americans. This bias permeates legislative as well as judicial decision-making, leading to the possibility of verdicts against Black defendants that are tainted with racial bias. The Supreme Court’s 2017 decision in Peña-Rodriguez v. Colorado provides an ex post remedy for blatant racism that impacts jury verdicts, while jury nullification provides an ex ante remedy by empowering jurors to reject convicting Black defendants when to do so would reinforce racially biased laws. Both remedies exist alongside a trend limiting ...


American Exceptionalism In Mass Incarceration, Isabell Murray 2018 University of Washington Tacoma

American Exceptionalism In Mass Incarceration, Isabell Murray

Global Honors Theses

American exceptionalism is often positively connotated; America’s exceptionalism often refers to the nation’s unique, progressive ideals of liberty during the nation’s founding, as well as the premise of a free Democratic Republic. While the United States of America has many positive and exceptional qualities, this research illustrates an unfortunate exceptional American quality: the mass incarceration of over 2.3 million people in the United States of America. This paper reviews the literature to understand the evolution of mass incarceration on the basis of three lines: the United States’ history of race, the nation’s governmental structure and ...


Equal Protection And The Social Sciences Thirty Years After Mccleskey V. Kemp, Destiny Peery, Osagie K. Obasogie 2018 Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Equal Protection And The Social Sciences Thirty Years After Mccleskey V. Kemp, Destiny Peery, Osagie K. Obasogie

Northwestern University Law Review

No abstract provided.


Equal Protection And White Supremacy, Paul Butler 2018 Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Equal Protection And White Supremacy, Paul Butler

Northwestern University Law Review

The project of using social science to help win equal protection claims is doomed to fail if its premise is that the Supreme Court post-McCleskey just needs more or better evidence of racial discrimination. Everyone—including the Justices of the Court—already knows that racial discrimination is endemic in the criminal justice system. Social science does help us to understand the role of white supremacy in U.S. police and punishment practices. Social science also can help us understand how to move people to resist, and can inform our imagination of the transformation needed for equal justice under the ...


The Futile Fourth Amendment: Understanding Police Excessive Force Doctrine Through An Empirical Assessment Of Graham V. Connor, Osagie K. Obasogie, Zachary Newman 2018 Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

The Futile Fourth Amendment: Understanding Police Excessive Force Doctrine Through An Empirical Assessment Of Graham V. Connor, Osagie K. Obasogie, Zachary Newman

Northwestern University Law Review

Graham v. Connor established the modern constitutional landscape for police excessive force claims. The Supreme Court not only refined an objective reasonableness test to describe the constitutional standard, but also held that the Fourth Amendment is the sole avenue for courts to adjudicate claims that police violated a person’s constitutional rights in using force. In this Essay, we ask: What impact did this decision have on the nature of police excessive force claims in federal courts? To address this, we engaged in a qualitative examination of 500 federal cases (250 in the twenty-six years before Graham and 250 in ...


"Our Taxes Are Too Damn High": Institutional Racism, Property Tax Assessment, And The Fair Housing Act, Bernadette Atuahene 2018 Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

"Our Taxes Are Too Damn High": Institutional Racism, Property Tax Assessment, And The Fair Housing Act, Bernadette Atuahene

Northwestern University Law Review

To prevent inflated property tax bills, the Michigan Constitution prohibits property tax assessments from exceeding 50% of a property’s market value. Between 2009 and 2015, the City of Detroit assessed 55%–85% of its residential properties in violation of the Michigan Constitution, and these unconstitutional assessments have had dire consequences. Between 2011 and 2015, one in four Detroit properties have been foreclosed upon for nonpayment of illegally inflated property taxes. In addition to Detroit, the other two cities in Michigan’s Wayne County where African-Americans comprise 70% or more of the population—Highland Park and Inkster—have similarly experienced ...


Mccleskey V. Kemp: Field Notes From 1977-1991, John Charles Boger 2018 Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Mccleskey V. Kemp: Field Notes From 1977-1991, John Charles Boger

Northwestern University Law Review

The litigation campaign that led to McCleskey v. Kemp did not begin as an anti-death-penalty effort. It grew in soil long washed in the blood of African-Americans, lynched or executed following rude semblances of trials and hasty appeals, which had prompted the NAACP from its very founding to demand “simple justice” in individual criminal cases. When the Warren Court signaled, in the early 1960s, that it might be open to reflection on broader patterns of racial discrimination in capital sentencing, the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) began to gather empirical evidence and craft appropriate constitutional responses. As that effort built, other deficiencies in state capital states became apparent, and LDF eventually asserted a broader constitutional critique of state capital structures and processes. By 1967, LDF and its allies had developed a nationwide “moratorium” campaign that challenged death sentencing statutes in virtually every state.

Though the campaign appeared poised for partial success in 1969, changes in Court personnel and shifts in the nation’s mood dashed LDF’s initial hopes. Yet unexpectedly, in 1972, five Justices ruled in Furman v. Georgia that all death sentences and all capital statutes nationwide would fall under the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments. Each of the nine Furman Justices wrote separately, without a single governing rationale beyond their expressed uneasiness that the death penalty was being imposed infrequently, capriciously, and in an arbitrary manner. Thirty-five states promptly enacted new and revised capital statutes. Four years later, a majority of the Court held that three of those new state statutes met Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment standards. The 1976 Court majority expressed confidence that the states’ newly revised procedures should work to curb the arbitrariness and capriciousness that had earlier troubled the Furman majority.

The McCleskey case emerged from subsequent review of post-Furman sentencing patterns in the State of Georgia. A brilliant and exhaustive study by Professor David Baldus and his colleagues demonstrated that the Court’s assumptions in 1976 were wrong; strong racial disparities in capital sentencing continued to persist statewide in Georgia—especially in cases in ...


Eyes Wide Open: What Social Science Can Tell Us About The Supreme Court's Use Of Social Science, Jonathan P. Feingold, Evelyn R. Carter 2018 Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Eyes Wide Open: What Social Science Can Tell Us About The Supreme Court's Use Of Social Science, Jonathan P. Feingold, Evelyn R. Carter

Northwestern University Law Review

The Northwestern University Law Review’s 2017 Symposium asked whether McCleskey v. Kemp closed the door on social science’s ability to meaningfully contribute to equal protection deliberations. This inquiry is understandable; McCleskey is widely understood to have rendered statistical racial disparities doctrinally irrelevant in the equal protection context. We suggest, however, that this account overstates McCleskey and its doctrinal impact. Roughly fifteen years after McCleskey, Chief Justice William Rehnquist—himself part of the McCleskey majority—invoked admissions data to support his conclusion that the University of Michigan Law School unconstitutionally discriminated against white applicants.

Chief Justice Rehnquist’s disparate ...


Sky Is The Limit: Protecting Unaccompanied Minors By Not Subjecting Them To Numerical Limitations, Deborah S. Gonzalez Esq. 2018 Roger Williams University School of Law

Sky Is The Limit: Protecting Unaccompanied Minors By Not Subjecting Them To Numerical Limitations, Deborah S. Gonzalez Esq.

St. Mary's Law Journal

Abstract forthcoming


Things Invisible To See: State Action & Private Property, Joseph William Singer, Isaac Saidel-Goley 2018 Texas A&M University School of Law

Things Invisible To See: State Action & Private Property, Joseph William Singer, Isaac Saidel-Goley

Texas A&M Law Review

This Article revisits the state action doctrine, a judicial invention that shields “private” or “non-governmental” discrimination from constitutional scrutiny. Traditionally, this doctrine has applied to discrimination even in places of public accommodation, like restaurants, hotels, and grocery stores. Born of overt racial discrimination, the doctrine has inflicted substantial injustice throughout its inglorious history, and courts have continuously struggled in vain to coherently apply the doctrine. Yet, the United States Supreme Court has not fully insulated “private” or “horizontal” relations among persons from constitutional scrutiny. The cases in which it has applied constitutional norms to non-governmental actors should be celebrated rather ...


"Playing It Safe" With Empirical Evidence: Selective Use Of Social Science In Supreme Court Cases About Racial Justice And Marriage Equality, Russell K. Robinson, David M. Frost 2018 Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

"Playing It Safe" With Empirical Evidence: Selective Use Of Social Science In Supreme Court Cases About Racial Justice And Marriage Equality, Russell K. Robinson, David M. Frost

Northwestern University Law Review

This Essay seeks to draw connections between race, sexual orientation, and social science in Supreme Court litigation. In some respects, advocates for racial minorities and sexual minorities face divergent trajectories. Among those asserting civil rights claims, LGBT rights claimants have been uniquely successful at the Court ever since Romer v. Evans in the mid-1990s. During this period, advocates for racial minorities have fought to preserve earlier victories in cases such as Regents of the University of California v. Bakke and have failed to overturn precedents that strictly limit equal protection possibilities, such as McCleskey v. Kemp. Nonetheless, we argue that ...


Accelerated Civil Rights Settlements In The Shadow Of Section 1983, Katherine A. Macfarlane 2018 SJ Quinney College of Law, University of Utah

Accelerated Civil Rights Settlements In The Shadow Of Section 1983, Katherine A. Macfarlane

Utah Law Review

The families of Eric Garner, Laquan McDonald, Freddie Gray, and Walter Scott have obtained multimillion dollar settlements from the cities in which their family members lost their lives. This Article identifies and labels these settlements as a legal response unique to high-profile policeinvolved deaths: accelerated civil rights settlement. It defines accelerated civil rights settlement as a resolution strategy that uses the threat of 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 litigation rather than litigation itself to compensate police-involved shooting victims’ family members. This Article explains how accelerated civil rights settlement involves no complaint or case—nothing is filed. Also, the goal ...


Batson For Judges, Police Officers & Teachers: Lessons In Democracy From The Jury Box, Stacy L. Hawkins 2018 Rutgers Law School

Batson For Judges, Police Officers & Teachers: Lessons In Democracy From The Jury Box, Stacy L. Hawkins

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

In our representative democracy we guarantee equal participation for all, but we fall short of this promise in so many domains of our civic life. From the schoolhouse, to the jailhouse, to the courthouse, racial minorities are underrepresented among key public decision-makers, such as judges, police officers, and teachers. This gap between our aspirations for representative democracy and the reality that our judges, police officers, and teachers are often woefully under-representative of the racially diverse communities they serve leaves many citizens of color wanting for the democratic guarantee of equal participation. This critical failure of our democracy threatens to undermine ...


Vulnerability, Access To Justice, And The Fragmented State, Elizabeth L. MacDowell 2018 William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada Las Vegas

Vulnerability, Access To Justice, And The Fragmented State, Elizabeth L. Macdowell

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

This Article builds on theories of the fragmented state and of human and institutional vulnerability to create a new, structural theory of “functional fragmentation” and its role in access to justice work. Expanding on previous concepts of fragmentation in access to justice scholarship, fragmentation is understood in the Article as a complex phenomenon existing within as well as between state institutions like courts. Further, it is examined in terms of its relationship to the state’s coercive power over poor people in legal systems. In this view, fragmentation in state operations creates not only challenges for access, but also opportunities ...


The Case Against Police Militarization, Eliav Lieblich, Adam Shinar 2018 Tel Aviv University

The Case Against Police Militarization, Eliav Lieblich, Adam Shinar

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

We usually think there is a difference between the police and the military. Recently, however, the police have become increasingly militarized – a process which is likely to intensify in coming years. Unsurprisingly, many find this process alarming and call for its reversal. However, while most of the objections to police militarization are framed as instrumental arguments, these arguments are unable to capture the core problem with militarization.

This Article remedies this shortcoming by developing a novel and principled argument against police militarization. Contrary to arguments that are preoccupied with the consequences of militarization, the real problem with police militarization is ...


What Can Brown Do For You?: Addressing Mccleskey V. Kemp As A Flawed Standard For Measuring The Constitutionally Significant Risk Of Race Bias, Mario L. Barnes, Erwin Chemerinsky 2018 Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

What Can Brown Do For You?: Addressing Mccleskey V. Kemp As A Flawed Standard For Measuring The Constitutionally Significant Risk Of Race Bias, Mario L. Barnes, Erwin Chemerinsky

Northwestern University Law Review

This Essay asserts that in McCleskey v. Kemp, the Supreme Court created a problematic standard for the evidence of race bias necessary to uphold an equal protection claim under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. First, the Court’s opinion reinforced the cramped understanding that constitutional claims require evidence of not only disparate impact but also discriminatory purpose, producing significant negative consequences for the operation of the U.S. criminal justice system. Second, the Court rejected the Baldus study’s findings of statistically significant correlations between the races of the perpetrators and victims and the imposition of the ...


Martin Luther King Jr. And Pretext Stops (And Arrests): Reflections On How Far We Have Not Come Fifty Years Later, Tracey Maclin, Maria Savarese 2018 Boston Univeristy School of Law

Martin Luther King Jr. And Pretext Stops (And Arrests): Reflections On How Far We Have Not Come Fifty Years Later, Tracey Maclin, Maria Savarese

Faculty Scholarship

By January, 1956, the Montgomery Bus boycott was in full-swing. Black citizens in Montgomery, Alabama were refusing to ride the city’s private buses to protest racially segregated seating. On the afternoon of January 26, 1956, twenty-seven-year-old Martin Luther King, Jr. had finished his day of work at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery. On his drive home, King stopped his vehicle to offer a ride to a group of bus boycotters standing at a downtown car-pool location. After the boycotters entered King’s car, two motorcycle policemen pulled-in behind King’s vehicle. While everyone in King’s car ...


Mass Incarceration: Slavery Renamed, Samantha Pereira 2018 San Jose State University

Mass Incarceration: Slavery Renamed, Samantha Pereira

Themis: Research Journal of Justice Studies and Forensic Science

This paper aims to analyze the connections between slavery and mass incarceration. It begins by giving background information regarding the topic and setting the framework to argue that slavery was never abolished, but was instead continued using mass incarceration. The paper then goes on to further explain this concept by examining the constitutional and judicial laws in the United States, slave plantations and prisons, with regard to geographical, architectural, and operational design, and finally, the role of society in both systems. The framework for continuing slavery was set with the passing of the 13th Amendment and has since been expanded ...


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