Previous issues of MJR&L are now available at the MLaw Journal Repository.
Volume 20.2 (Winter 2015)
Foreword: Reflections on Our Founding
Professor Guy-Uriel E. Charles ’96, Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Vol. 1
& Professor Luis E. Fuentes-Rohwer ’97, Founder & Executive Editor, Vol. 1
There Are No Racists Here: The Rise of Racial Extremism, When No One is Racist
Professor Jeannine Bell ’99
Founding Member; Book Review Editor, Vol. 4 CV
At first glance hate murders appear wholly anachronistic in post-racial America. This Article suggests otherwise. The Article begins by analyzing the periodic expansions
of the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the protection for racist expression in First Amendment doctrine. The Article then contextualizes the case law by providing evidence of how the First Amendment works on the ground in two separate areas —the enforcement of hate crime law and on university campuses that enact speech codes. In these areas, those using racist expression receive full protection for their beliefs. Part III describes social spaces—social media and employment where slurs and epithets may be used frequently. The final portion of the Article briefly explores two forms of unacknowledged racial violence—violence directed at minorities who move to white neighborhoods and extremist killings. Our inaccurate approach to bias-motivated crime and the culture of protection around racist expression, the Article concludes, leaves American society vulnerable to the danger created by racial extremists.
Trajectory of a Law Professor
Professor Meera E. Deo ’00
Editorial Board, Vol. 5 CV
Women of color are already severely underrepresented in legal academia; as enrollment drops and legal institutions constrict further, race and gender disparities will likely continue to grow. Yet, as many deans and associate deans, most of whom are white, step down from leadership positions during these tumultuous times in legal education, opportunities have arisen for women of color to fill those roles in record numbers. However, there are individual and structural barriers preventing access to the leadership level. Significant hurdles have long prevented women of color from entering law teaching. Thus, this Article provides evidence to support the thesis that ongoing changes in legal education will likely continue to create barriers both to entry and advancement for women of color law faculty members and those who aspire to join legal academia. This Article draws from quantitative and qualitative analyses of data drawn from the Diversity in Legal Academia (DLA) project, a landmark mixed-method study of law faculty diversity, which utilizes an intersectional lens to focus on the experiences of women of color in legal academia while also incorporating those of white men, white women, and men of color. Empirical findings reveal that structural barriers (i.e., outright discrimination) as well as more indirect obstacles prevent women of color from joining legal academia in meaningful numbers and also preclude women of color who are already legal academics from taking on leadership positions. Law school administrators and policy makers should work against these structural and individual barriers to increase and improve faculty diversity at all levels. Greater diversity in legal academia generally, and leadership in particular, will not only provide greater opportunities for particular law faculty members, but will also have a positive effect on law students, legal education, legal academia, and the legal profession overall.
Justice and Law Journals
Professor Gabriel “Jack” Chin ’88 CV
Professor Adam B. Wolf ’01
Editor-in-Chief, Vol. 6 CV
What is the role for a law journal in advancing justice? What is the of a justice-minded practitioner in furthering legal scholarship? And what is the intersection—practically and normatively—for law journals, legal scholars, practitioners, and justice?
This brief Article attempts to lay a foundation for answering these important, but oft-neglected, questions. In the following conversation, a frequent contributor to the Michigan Journal of Race & Law (MJRL) and a former Editor-in-Chief of the Journal posit some ideas on how legal scholarship engages with justice, and how race-conscious practitioners can interact with race-conscious legal scholars.
Disparaging Trademarks: Who Matters
Professor Jasmine Abdel-Khalik ’00 CV
For more than a century, non-majority groups have protested the use of trademarks
comprised of or containing terms referencing the group—albeit for various reasons.
Under the 1946 Lanham Act, Congress added a prohibition against registering
disparaging trademarks, which could offer protection to non-majority groups
targeted by the use of trademarks offensive to members of the group. The prohibition
remained relatively unclear, however, and rarely applied in that context until a
group of Native Americans petitioned to cancel the Washington NFL team’s trademarks
as either scandalous, offensive to the general population, or disparaging,
offensive to the referenced group. In clarifying the appropriate test for disparaging,
however, the decision makers have overly analogizing the two prohibitions, rendering
the disparaging trademark prohibition less effective in protecting non-majority
groups from offensive trademarks.
Mainstreaming Equality in Federal Budgeting: Addressing Educational Inequities with Regard to the States
Elizabeth K. Hinson ’11
Executive Articles Editor, Vol. 16 CV
Great Society reformers targeted poverty as the defining characteristic for a novel federal education policy in the United States in 1965. Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), reincarnated within the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, distributes financial aid to disadvantaged students within public schools solely based upon students’ socioeconomic status. This Article does not dispute that financial resources improve student outcomes, but this Article argues that Title I’s funding formula is ineffective, and a new funding scheme – specifically, a mainstreaming equality funding scheme – must replace it. The implementation of this funding scheme will require Congress to acknowledge that poverty in the United States is not a mere set of behaviors and attitudes but is intricately linked to race and class.
Mainstreaming equality schemes require that public bodies assess the impact of their policies on equality of opportunity and monitor any adverse impact on the promotion of equality of opportunity. This Article describes how such a scheme would address disparities among students. Second, this Article argues that Congress should define beneficiary groups based on characteristics additional to socioeconomic status, including measures of cultural isolation and local tax revenue contributed to public education. Third, this Article establishes that a federal mainstreaming school funding scheme based on “layered disadvantage” and its multiplicative effects will both acknowledge and address long-time, covered attitudes about race, poverty and privilege in the United States and the ways in which those attitudes continue to enforce a paralyzed outcome, especially for African American students within public schools. Finally, by examining mainstreaming equality models implemented in the European Union, this Article considers in detail the methodology for conducting mainstreaming equality within a federal school funding scheme as implemented by Congress with respect to the individual states.
Functionally Suspect: Reconceptualizing “Race” as a Suspect Classification
Professor Lauren Sudeall Lucas CV
In the context of equal protection doctrine, race has become untethered from the criteria underlying its demarcation as a classification warranting heightened scrutiny. As a result, it is no longer an effective vehicle for challenging the existing social and political order; instead, its primary purpose under current doctrine is to signal the presence of an impermissible basis for differential treatment. This Symposium Article suggests that, to more effectively serve its underlying normative goals, equal protection should prohibit not discrimination based on race per se, but government actions that implicate the concerns leading to race’s designation as a suspect classification. For example, a possible equal protection violation would no longer be triggered by the mere act of racial categorization, but by classifications targeting groups characterized by a history of past discrimination, political powerlessness, or a trait that has no bearing on its members’ ability to participate in or contribute to society.By directly integrating the values underlying suspect classification into equal protection analysis, this Article attempts to replace the categorical use of race with a substantive approach that is less vulnerable to arguments grounded in colorblindness or postracialism and more focused on deconstructing existing racial hierarchies.
The Keyes to Reclaiming the Racial History of the Roberts Court
Professor Tom I. Romero II ’00 CV
This Article advocates for a fundamental re-understanding about the way that the history of race is understood by the current Supreme Court. Represented by the racial rights opinions of Justice John Roberts that celebrate racial progress, the Supreme Court has equivocated and rendered obsolete the historical experiences of people of color in the United States. This jurisprudence has in turn reified the notion of color-blindness, consigning racial discrimination to a distant and discredited past that has little bearing to how race and inequality is experienced today.
The racial history of the Roberts Court is centrally informed by the context and circumstances surrounding Brown v. Board of Education. For the Court, Brown symbolizes all that is wrong with the history of race in the United States— legal segregation, explicit racial discord, and vicious and random acts of violence. Though Roberts Court opinions suggest that some of those vestiges still exits, the bulk of its jurisprudence indicate the opposite. With Brown’s basic factual premises as its point of reference, the Court has consistently argued that the nation has made tremendous strides away from the condition of racial bigotry, intolerance, and inequity.
The Article accordingly argues that the Roberts Court reliance on Brown to understand racial progress is anachronistic. Especially as the nation’s focus for racial inequality turned national in scope, the same binaries in Brown that had long served to explain the history of race relations in the United States (such as Black-
White, North-South, and Urban-Rural) were giving way to massive multicultural demographic and geographic transformations in the United States in the years and decades after World War II. All of the familiar tropes so clear in Brown and its progeny could no longer accurately describe the current reality of shifting and trans-
forming patterns of race relations in the United States.
In order to reclaim the history of race from the Roberts Court, the Article assesses a case that more accurately symbolizes the recent history and current status of race relations today: Keyes v. School District No. 1. This was the first SupremeCourt case to confront how the binaries of cases like Brown proved of little probative value in addressing how and in what ways race and racial discrimination was changing in the United States. Thus, understanding Keyes and the history it reflects reveals much about how and in what ways the Roberts Court should rethink its conclusions regarding the history of race relations in the United States for the last 60 years.