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University of Michigan Law School

Racial discrimination

Supreme Court of the United States

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Disparate Impact And The Role Of Classification And Motivation In Equal Protection Law After Inclusive Communities, Samuel Bagenstos Jan 2016

Disparate Impact And The Role Of Classification And Motivation In Equal Protection Law After Inclusive Communities, Samuel Bagenstos

Articles

At least since the Supreme Court’s 2009 decision in Ricci v. DeStefano, disparate-impact liability has faced a direct constitutional threat. This Article argues that the Court’s decision last Term in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., which held that disparate-impact liability is available under the Fair Housing Act, has resolved that threat, at least for the time being. In particular, this Article argues, Inclusive Communities is best read to adopt the understanding of equal protection that Justice Kennedy previously articulated in his pivotal concurrence in the 2007 Parents Involved case—which argued that …


Enforcing The Fifteenth Amendment, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2015

Enforcing The Fifteenth Amendment, Ellen D. Katz

Book Chapters

This chapter examines efforts to enforce the Fifteenth Amendment in the period from United States v. Reese through Shelby County v. Holder. Reese and Shelby County expose the most rigorous stance the Court has employed to review congressional efforts to enforce the Fifteenth Amendment, while the years in-between show Congress and the Court working more in tandem, at times displaying remarkable indifference to blatant violations of the Fifteenth Amendment, and elsewhere working cooperatively to help vindicate the Amendment’s promise. Defying simple explanation, this vacillation between cooperation and resistance captures the complex and deeply consequential way concerns about federal power, …


Dismissing Deterrence, Ellen D. Katz Apr 2014

Dismissing Deterrence, Ellen D. Katz

Articles

The proposed Voting Rights Amendment Act of 20144 (VRAA)[...]’s new criteria defining when jurisdictions become subject to preclearance are acutely responsive to the concerns articulated in Shelby County[ v. Holder]. The result is a preclearance regime that, if enacted, would operate in fewer places and demand less from those it regulates. This new regime, however, would not only be more targeted and less powerful, but, curiously, more vulnerable to challenge. In fact, the regime would be more vulnerable precisely because it is so responsive to Shelby County. Some background will help us see why.


Universalism And Civil Rights (With Notes On Voting Rights After Shelby), Samuel R. Bagenstos Jan 2014

Universalism And Civil Rights (With Notes On Voting Rights After Shelby), Samuel R. Bagenstos

Articles

After the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, voting rights activists proposed a variety of legislative responses. Some proposals sought to move beyond measures that targeted voting discrimination based on race or ethnicity. They instead sought to eliminate certain problematic practices that place too great a burden on voting generally. Responses like these are universalist, because rather than seeking to protect any particular group against discrimination, they formally provide uniform protections to everyone. As Bruce Ackerman shows, voting rights activists confronted a similar set of questions—and at least some of them opted for a universalist approach—during the campaign …


What Was Wrong With The Record?, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2013

What Was Wrong With The Record?, Ellen D. Katz

Articles

Shelby County v. Holder offers three reasons for why the record Congress amassed to support the 2006 reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) was legally insufficient to justify the statute's continued regional application: (1) the problems Congress documented in 2006 were not as severe as those that prompted it to craft the regime in 1965; (2) these problems did not lead Congress to alter the statute's pre-existing coverage formula; and (3) these problems did not exclusively involve voter registration and the casting of ballots.


South Carolina's 'Evolutionary Process', Ellen D. Katz Jan 2013

South Carolina's 'Evolutionary Process', Ellen D. Katz

Articles

When Congress first enacted the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in 1965, public officials in South Carolina led the charge to scrap the new statute. Their brief to the Supreme Court of the United States described the VRA as an “unjustified” and “arbitrary” affront to the “Equality of Statehood” principle, and a “usurp[ation]” of the State’s legislative and executive functions. Not surprisingly, the Warren Court was unpersuaded and opted instead to endorse broad congressional power to craft “inventive” remedies to address systematic racial discrimination and to “shift the advantage of time and inertia from the perpetrators of evil to its victims.” …


Shelby County V. Holder: Why Section 2 Matters, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2013

Shelby County V. Holder: Why Section 2 Matters, Ellen D. Katz

Articles

Editor’s Note: Professor Ellen D. Katz writes and teaches about election law, civil rights and remedies, and equal protection. She and the Voting Rights Initiative at Michigan Law filed a brief as amicus curiae in Shelby County v. Holder, on which the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments February 27. Here, she examines why Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act bears consideration in the case, which involves a challenge to Section 5 of the act.


A Cure Worse Than The Disease?, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2013

A Cure Worse Than The Disease?, Ellen D. Katz

Articles

The pending challenge to section 5 of the Voting Rights Act insists the statute is no longer necessary. Should the Supreme Court agree, its ruling is likely to reflect the belief that section 5 is not only obsolete but that its requirements do more harm today than the condition it was crafted to address. In this Essay, Professor Ellen D. Katz examines why the Court might liken section 5 to a destructive treatment and why reliance on that analogy in the pending case threatens to leave the underlying condition unaddressed and Congress without the power to address it.


On Overreaching, Or Why Rick Perry May Save The Voting Rights Act But Destroy Affirmative Action, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2012

On Overreaching, Or Why Rick Perry May Save The Voting Rights Act But Destroy Affirmative Action, Ellen D. Katz

Articles

The State of Texas is presently staking out two positions that are not typically pursued by a single litigant. On the one hand, Texas is seeking the invalidation of the Voting Rights Act, and, on the other, the State is now defending the validity of the expansive race-based affirmative action policy it uses at its flagship university. This Essay presses the claim that Texas has increased the chance it will lose in bothTexas v. Holder andFisher v. University of Texas because it has opted to stake out markedly extreme positions in each. I argue that Texas would be more likely …


David Baldus And The Legacy Of Mccleskey V. Kemp, Samuel R. Gross Jan 2012

David Baldus And The Legacy Of Mccleskey V. Kemp, Samuel R. Gross

Articles

The first major empirical challenge to racial discrimination in the use of the death penalty in the United States was presented in federal court in the case of William L. Maxwell, who was sentenced to death in Arkansas in 1962 for the crime of rape.1 It was based on a landmark study by Marvin Wolfgang, a distinguished criminologist who had collected data on some 3000 rape convictions from 1945 through 1965 in selected counties across eleven southern states.2 He found that black men who were convicted of rape were seven times more likely to be sentenced to death than white …


Congressional Power To Extend Preclearance: A Response To Professor Karlan, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2007

Congressional Power To Extend Preclearance: A Response To Professor Karlan, Ellen D. Katz

Articles

Is the core provision of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional? Many people now think that the Act's preclearance requirement is invalid, but Professor Karlan is not among them. In part, that is because she is not convinced the problems that originally motivated Congress to impose preclearance have been fully remedied. Professor Karlan points out the many ways section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) shapes behavior in the jurisdictions subject to the statute--not just by blocking discriminatory electoral changes, but also by influencing less transparent conduct by various political actors operating in these regions. Do not be so sure, …


Documenting Discrimination In Voting: Judicial Findings Under Section 2 Of The Voting Rights Act Since 1982, Ellen D. Katz, Margaret Aisenbrey, Anna Baldwin, Emma Cheuse, Anna Weisbrodt Jan 2006

Documenting Discrimination In Voting: Judicial Findings Under Section 2 Of The Voting Rights Act Since 1982, Ellen D. Katz, Margaret Aisenbrey, Anna Baldwin, Emma Cheuse, Anna Weisbrodt

Other Publications

The Voting Rights Initiative ("VRI") at the University of Michigan Law School was created during the winter of 2005 to help inform [...] the debates that led to this latest congressional reauthorization and the legal challenge to it that is certain to follow. A cooperative research venture involving 100 students working under faculty direction set out to produce a detailed portrait of litigation brought since 1982 under Section 2. This Report evaluates the results of that survey. The comprehensive data set may be found in a searchable form at http://www.votingreport.org or http://www.sitemaker.umich.edu/votingrights. The aim of this report and the accompanying …


From Laredo To Fort Worth: Race, Politics And The Texas Redistricting Case, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2006

From Laredo To Fort Worth: Race, Politics And The Texas Redistricting Case, Ellen D. Katz

Articles

LULAC v. Perry held that Texas violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act when it displaced nearly 100,000 Latino residents from a congressional district in Laredo to protect the Republican incumbent they refused to support. At the same time, the Justices let stand the dismantling of a so-called “coalition” district in Fort Worth where African-American voters comprising a minority of the district’s population allegedly enjoyed effective control in deciding the district’s representative. Only Justice Kennedy supported the outcome in both Laredo and Fort Worth. His opinion marks the first time that he, or indeed a majority of the Justices, …


Documenting Discrimination In Voting: Judicial Findings Under Section 2 Of The Voting Rights Act Since 1982, Ellen D. Katz, Margaret Aisenbrey, Anna Baldwin, Emma Cheuse, Anna Weisbrodt Dec 2005

Documenting Discrimination In Voting: Judicial Findings Under Section 2 Of The Voting Rights Act Since 1982, Ellen D. Katz, Margaret Aisenbrey, Anna Baldwin, Emma Cheuse, Anna Weisbrodt

Other Publications

This year marks the fortieth anniversary of one of the most remarkable and consequential pieces of congressional legislation ever enacted. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 ("the VRA") targeted massive disfranchisement of African-American citizens in numerous Southern states. It imposed measures drastic in scope and extraordinary in effect. The VRA eliminated the use of literacy tests and other "devices" that Southern jurisdictions had long employed to prevent black residents from registering and voting. The VRA imposed on these jurisdictions onerous obligations to prove to federal officials that proposed changes to their electoral system would not discriminate against minority voters. Resistance …


Reinforcing Representation: Enforcing The Fourteenth And Fifteenth Amendments In The Rehnquist And Waite Courts, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2003

Reinforcing Representation: Enforcing The Fourteenth And Fifteenth Amendments In The Rehnquist And Waite Courts, Ellen D. Katz

Articles

A large body of academic scholarship accuses the Rehnquist Court of "undoing the Second Reconstruction," just as the Waite Court has long been blamed for facilitating the end of the First. This critique captures much of what is meant by those generally charging the Rehnquist Court with "conservative judicial activism." It posits that the present Court wants to dismantle decades' worth of federal antidiscrimination measures that are aimed at the "reconstruction" of public and private relationships at the local level. It sees the Waite Court as having similarly nullified the civil-rights initiatives enacted by Congress following the Civil War to …


Federalism, Preclearance, And The Rehnquist Court, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2001

Federalism, Preclearance, And The Rehnquist Court, Ellen D. Katz

Articles

Lopez v. Monterey County is an odd decision. Justice O'Connor's majority opinion easily upholds the constitutionality of a broad construction of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in language reminiscent of the Warren Court. Acknowledging the "substantial 'federalism costs" resulting from the VRA's "federal intrusion into sensitive areas of state and local policymaking," Lopez recognizes that the Reconstruction Amendments "contemplate" this encroachment into realms "traditionally reserved to the States." Justice O'Connor affirms as constitutionally permissible the infringement that the section 5 preclearance process "by its nature" effects on state sovereignty, and applies section 5 broadly, holding the statute …


Race, Peremptories, And Capital Jury Deliberations, Samuel R. Gross Jan 2001

Race, Peremptories, And Capital Jury Deliberations, Samuel R. Gross

Articles

In Lonnie Weeks's capital murder trial in Virginia in 1993, the jury was instructed: If you find from the evidence that the Commonwealth has proved beyond a reasonable doubt, either of the two alternative aggravating factors], and as to that alternative you are unanimous, then you may fix the punishment of the defendant at death or if you believe from all the evidence that the death penalty is not justified, then you shall fix the punishment of the defendant at life imprisonment ... This instruction is plainly ambiguous, at least to a lay audience. Does it mean that if the …


Still Unfair, Still Arbitrary - But Do We Care?, Samuel R. Gross Jan 2000

Still Unfair, Still Arbitrary - But Do We Care?, Samuel R. Gross

Other Publications

Welcome. It is a pleasure to see everybody at this bright and cheery hour of the morning. My assignment is to try to give an overview of the status of the death penalty in America at the beginning of the twenty-first century. I will try to put that in the context of how the death penalty was viewed thirty years ago, or more, and maybe that will tell us something about how the death penalty will be viewed thirty or forty years from now.


An Essay On Texas V. Lesage, Christina B. Whitman Jan 2000

An Essay On Texas V. Lesage, Christina B. Whitman

Articles

When I was invited to participate in this symposium, I was asked to discuss whether the causation defense developed in Mt. Healthy City School District Board of Education v. Doyle applied to cases challenging state action under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. As I argue below, it seems clear that Mt. Healthy does apply to equal protection cases. The Supreme Court explicitly so held last November in Texas v. Lesage. But the implications of Lesage go beyond questions of causation. The opinion suggests that the Court may be rethinking (or ignoring) its promise in Carey v. Piphus …


Unpleasant Facts: The Supreme Court's Response To Empirical Research On Capital Punishment, Phoebe C. Ellsworth Jan 1988

Unpleasant Facts: The Supreme Court's Response To Empirical Research On Capital Punishment, Phoebe C. Ellsworth

Book Chapters

Slowly at first, and then with accelerating frequency, the courts have begun to examine, consider, and sometimes even require empirical data. From 1960 to 1981, for example, use of the terms "statistics" and "statistical" in Federal District and Circuit Court opinions increased by almost 15 times.1 Of course, citation rates indicate only that a topic is considered worthy of mention, not that it is taken seriously, or even understood. Nonetheless, in a number of areas, such as jury composition and employment discrimination, the courts have come to rely on empirical data as a matter of course.

In the last 25 …


Bakke: A Compelling Need To Discriminate, Theodore J. St. Antoine Jan 1977

Bakke: A Compelling Need To Discriminate, Theodore J. St. Antoine

Articles

Two of America's most cherished values collided head-on a few months ago, when the U.S. Supreme Court began to come to grips with the most significant civil rights suit since the school desegregation cases of 1954. Arrayed on one side is the principle of governmental "color-blindness," the appealing notion that the color of a person's skin should have nothing to do with the distribution of benefits or burdens by the state. Set against it is the goal of a truly integrated society, and the tragic realization that this objective cannot be achieved within the foreseeable future unless race and color …