The Michigan Journal of Race & Law is a legal journal that serves as a forum for the exploration of issues relating to race and law. To that end, MJR&L publishes articles, notes, and essays on the cutting edge of civil rights scholarship from a wide variety of scholarly perspectives. MJR&L’s diversity is reflected by the authors with whom we collaborate, ranging from scholars and students to practitioners and social scientists.
Featured Blog Post: The Continuing Significance of the Non-Unanimous Jury Verdict and the Plantation Prison by Madeleine Jennings
In 1934, Oregon voters amended their Constitution to allow for non-unanimous jury verdicts in all non-first degree murder and non-capital cases. The Louisiana Constitution requires unanimity only in capital cases.Grounded in xenophobia and anti-Semitism, the Oregon law was passed by a ballot measure following the trial of a Jewish man who, accused of killing two Protestants, had received a lesser manslaughter conviction following a single juror hold-out. The Louisiana iteration was crafted post-Reconstruction to increase convictions of then-freed Blacks, thereby increasing the for-profit labor force. The State had, for decades, leased convicts to plantation owners and, in 1869, leased its prison and all of its inmates to a former major in the Confederate Army, who later moved the prisoners to Angola, the site of the former plantation, named for the country that was once home to its slaves.
Featured Blog Post: Imposition of Identity: Trump’s Immigration Order and the Racialization of Islam by Asma Husain
Outside of the courts, however, the ban may continue to feed perceptions of Muslims as monolithic, foreign, and dangerous. The immigration order is an exclusionary act, and it serves to further define Muslim identity both in public perception and under law. “The power of racialization is that the ‘Muslim terrorist’ is imposed upon groups regardless of their subjective wishes.” By declaring every permanent resident, refugee, or visitor from Muslim-majority countries a potential threat, the Trump administration has relied on an existing framework of racialization and vilification of Muslims, and is now further bolstering that framework. Regardless of whether the ban is ultimately found constitutional or enforceable, its declaratory statements have further defined and grouped together countless individuals without their consent. That imposition of identity will continue to have consequences for those caught in the net of anti-Muslim sentiment.
Featured Blog Post: Supreme Court Considers Limits of Racial Gerrymandering by Marcus Baldori
In the coming months, the Supreme Court is expected to clarify its stance on the legal boundaries of racial gerrymandering. In December 2016 the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections; the case will explore whether a requirement that certain districts have a minimum of 55% Black voting population violates the Equal Protection Clause and the Voting Rights Act. The plaintiffs allege that the 55% floor was a scheme to pack black voters into a few districts, thereby diluting minorities’ overall effect on delegate elections in Virginia.