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Race and American Law Resource Guide

Course Description

This course, team-taught by a dozen faculty, explores race in American law, drawing on empirical and theoretical social science, history, and traditional legal materials. It will explore how the law treats race (and ethnicity and national origin) across legal curricula The course will examine both how policy treats race explicitly and its differential impact based on social stratification, demographics and culture drawing on the experience of African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, first nation peoples, and other ethnic/ racial groups. Topics will include: whether race is a biological or social construct; the sociology of race, particularly the relation of race to social class and wealth; how the constitutional treatment of race and different racial/ ethnic groups has evolved since the origins of the nation and the varying interpretation of equal protection; the relation between race and citizenship and immigration policy; the civil rights act of 1964 and employment discrimination; discriminatory treatment of racial groups in criminal enforcement, prosecution, and adjudication; education policy and educational testing; disparities in health care treatment and outcomes, reproductive choices; race and eugenics; race and voting rights; family law including anti-miscegenation policy and domestic violence.

Faculty for 2023:

  • Genetics, Social Construction & Health Disparities: Rodwin
  • Constitutional law: Landers
  • Property & Housing: Berman and Langowski
  • Education & Testing: Dyson
  • First Nations & Native Peoples: Friederichs
  • Immigration: Shah
  • Reproductive Rights & Eugenics: Boonin
  • Family Law: Karmely
  • Election Law: TBD
  • Discrimination, Title VII & Affirmative Action: Shin
  • Reparations: Outerson &  Rodwin
  • Criminal Law and Policing: Cody

The course is graded Pass-Fail. There is an assessment at the completion of each module. The course cannot be used to meet the law school writing requirement. Some instructors can sponsor an independent study on their topic that can be used to fulfill the writing requirement for students who have completed the course.