Registration is now open for MJR&L’s 2018 Symposium: A More Human Dwelling Place: Reimagining the Racialized Architecture of America

symposium photo

Presented by the Michigan Journal of Race & Law, “A More Human Dwelling Place: Reimagining the Racialized Architecture of America” is a symposium happening on February 16 and 17 at the University of Michigan Law School.

Over two days, we will examine five archetypal spaces in America: homes and neighborhoods, schools, courthouses, prisons, and borders. The symposium endeavors to consider the ways in which these spaces have become increasingly racialized, diagnose how that racialization impedes their basic functioning, and reimagine these spaces at their best, and our world as a more human dwelling place. James Baldwin gave us this name, embedded in his imperative “to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through vast forests, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.”

The symposium will bring together individuals working to better these spaces, hailing from many disciplines, including law, history, sociology, journalism, literature, architecture, urban planning, and visual art. Together, we hope to conceptualize forgotten or not yet dreamed of alternatives. Through discussions of projects already realized and ideas not yet concrete, we will collectively inch toward the world we wish to inhabit.

The symposium is free and open to the public. All are welcome.

For more information about the Symposium, please see the Symposium website.

To register to attend the Symposium, click here.

Posted in Announcements, MJR&L Events

UPCOMING EVENT 10/11: Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Linked Arms: A Panel on the NFL Protests

160916164438-01-nfl-players-protest-super-169.jpgIs Colin Kaepernick the first to use sports as a platform for protest? How is the First Amendment shaping the debate? Does labor law provide protections for athletes who protest? Join Professors Kate Andrias, Sherman Clark and Len Niehoff as they discuss these and other key legal issues surrounding the NFL protests, Trump and racism.

This event will be hosted by the Michigan Journal of Race & Law and the Sports Law Society, in conjunction with the Racial Justice Coalition and the Black Students Association, and will take place tomorrow, October 11th, at 12pm in Hutchins Hall 250.  Lunch from Curry On will be provided.

Before the event, please consider reading Professor Niehoff’s blog post on the protests here.


Posted in MJR&L Events

Introducing the Volume 23 Associate Editors

Congratulations to the Volume 23 Associate Editors!  The Michigan Journal of Race & Law is beyond excited to have you join our family.  Please give a warm welcome to:


Hira Baig

David Bergh

Morgan Birck

Ben Cornelius

Shanene Frederick

Elliott Gluck

Gloria Han

Cleo Hernandez

Allison Horwitz

Gabriela Hybel

Danielle Maldonado

Eric Nicholson

John Spangler

Rasheed Stewart

Virginia Weeks


Posted in Announcements

Rethinking Death Penalty Reform: The Case Against Death-qualified Juries

By Anonymous Associate Editor

Since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty through Gregg in 1976, racial bias has continued to pervade its administration.[1] 34.5% of defendants executed have been Black and 55.6% have been white,[2] despite the fact that only 13.3% of people in the U.S. identify as Black, while 77.1% identify as white.[3]  I consider myself an abolitionist regarding the death penalty, as I do not think that it is justified for the state to kill a citizen in any circumstance. However, given these alarming statistics and the dire situation they illuminate, I find that efforts to reform the capital process to reduce racial disparity are also worthwhile. Reformers would do well to focus on the elimination of the death qualification process, as well as Eighth Amendment and Batson challenges to the death penalty. Continue reading

Posted in Current Events | Tagged , , , ,

Trump’s Travel Ban: Is There a Way Out?

By Rita Samaan
Associate Editor, Vol. 22

In the wake of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to block President Trump’s Executive Order 13769 (“Executive Order”), the President vowed to issue “a new executive action . . . that will comprehensively protect our country.”[1] The President’s officials have disclosed their intent to advocate more strongly for why the revised ban should apply to the seven listed countries.[2] They hope to overcome the amassing legal scrutiny of the travel ban and make it less of a “Muslim ban” in effect.[3]

So, who stood in the way of Trump’s order? Washington and Minnesota brought an action against President Trump, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Secretary of State, and the United States for a declaratory judgment that portions of the Executive Order were unconstitutional.[4] The states filed a motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO).[5] The United States District Court for the Western District of Washington granted the TRO and denied motion for stay pending appeal.[6] The federal government moved for an emergency stay of the district court’s TRO while waiting for its appeal to proceed.[7]

The decision on the government’s motion for an emergency stay came before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The court faced two questions: 1) whether the Government had made a strong showing of its likely success in its appeal and 2) whether the district court’s TRO should be stayed in light of the relative hardship and the public interest.[8] The court answered “no” to both questions,[9] listing several reasons for its decision. Continue reading

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The Continuing Significance of the Non-Unanimous Jury Verdict and the Plantation Prison

By Madeleine Jennings 
Associate Editor, Vol. 22

In 1934, Oregon voters amended their Constitution to allow for non-unanimous jury verdicts in all non-first degree murder and non-capital cases.[1] The Louisiana Constitution requires unanimity only in capital cases.[2] 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.[3] The Louisiana iteration was crafted post-Reconstruction to increase convictions of then-freed Blacks, thereby increasing the for-profit labor force.[4] 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.[5]

Once an 8,000-acre plantation, Angola now sits on 18,000 acres—roughly the size of Manhattan—and consumes its own zip code.[6] Today, it is one of the nation’s largest maximum security prisons, and has been named “America’s Bloodiest Prison.”[7] Continue reading

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Upcoming Event: So I Wanted to Work for the Federal Government… and then Trump Got Elected. What Now?

The Michigan Journal of Race & Law will be hosting a panel with professors to discuss options for students who are interested in working for the federal government but who have reservations or concerns as a result of the current political climate.
Professors Bagenstos, Katz, Uhlmann and Schlanger
as well as
Melanie Macey and Alan Kahn
to present OCP’s perspective

Monday March 13


116 Hutchins Hall

Co-Sponsored by OPIS, WLSA & MJLR
Lunch will be provided to the first 50 people
Posted in MJR&L Events | Tagged , , , ,

Imposition of Identity: Trump’s Immigration Order and the Racialization of Islam

By Asma Husain
Associate Editor, Vol. 22

On January 27 of this year, newly-inaugurated President Trump issued an executive order temporarily immigration from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen pending a report from the Department of Homeland Security, to be completed within thirty days of the order’s date.[1] Despite singling out only Muslim-majority countries, and despite Trump’s campaign promise of a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,”[2] the Trump administration has refused to characterize the immigration order as a “Muslim ban.” However, the ban impacts predominantly Muslim and Muslim-looking people and contributes to the classification of Muslims as a monolithic race by both the state and popular opinion.

The immigration order is couched in language about national security, but there is no doubt of its intentions to single out Muslim immigrants. A member of Trump’s team during the presidential election, Rudy Giuliani, spoke with Fox News about how Trump told him to craft a Muslim ban that could be carried out legally.[3]

And what we did was, we focused on, instead of religion, danger – the areas of the world that create danger for us. What is a factual basis, not a religious basis. Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible. And that’s what the ban is based on. It’s not based on religion. It’s based on places where there are substantial evidence that people are sending terrorists into our country.[4] Continue reading

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Supreme Court Considers Limits of Racial Gerrymandering

By Marcus Baldori
Associate Editor, Vol. 22

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.[1] 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.[2]

Before the Supreme Court granted cert for this case, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia held[3] that there was no Equal Protection violation because race was a not a predominant factor in the creation of 11 of the 12 challenged state district maps (citing criteria like compactness, contiguity, and incumbency protection[4]). The district court acknowledged that a “racial sorting” violation is independent of intent to dilute minority vote, and focuses only on whether the State has used race as a basis for separating voters.[5] Still, the Court held that the plaintiffs did not make the required showing that the legislature subordinated race-neutral principles to racial considerations in drawing the districts.[6] Continue reading

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Civil Rights Enforcement in the Trump Era

By Ali Boyd
Associate Editor, Vol. 22
Online Publications Editor, Vol. 23

In the wake of President Trump’s recent inauguration, millions of people across the world came out in protest of his rhetoric and policy agenda.[1]  The day after the inauguration, the Women’s March on Washington and sister-marches around the world demonstrated a widespread fear shared by millions that the rights of vulnerable Americans will be violated under President Trump’s administration.[2]  Civil rights could, of course, be curtailed through the legislative process, but often this takes time.  What is perhaps even more terrifying is the reality that the Trump administration could simply stop enforcing rights that are currently in place, a decision which could have immediate effect.

One of the key institutions for the federal government’s enforcement of civil rights is the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, which was created after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957.[3]  Since that time, the Division has been responsible for enforcing federal statutes designed to protect some of the most vulnerable members of our society, [4] including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act.[5]  The Civil Rights Division has been responsible for some remarkable legal work since its installation.  The DOJ website boasts of the prosecution of the eighteen individuals for civil rights violations surrounding the murder of three civil rights workers in Mississippi in 1964 as well as the Civil Rights Division’s involvement in the investigations of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.[6] Continue reading

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