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Alfred L. Brophy Stacey Marlise Gahagan University of Pittsburgh School of Law Title of Symposium March 28, 2014.

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Presentation on theme: "Alfred L. Brophy Stacey Marlise Gahagan University of Pittsburgh School of Law Title of Symposium March 28, 2014."— Presentation transcript:

1 Alfred L. Brophy Stacey Marlise Gahagan University of Pittsburgh School of Law Title of Symposium March 28, 2014

2  Reading Obama’s Syllabus The Elements of the Course Obama Teaching: Reading Assignments

3 Where does Obama fall on the spectrum?

4 Constitutional doctrine...

5 ... Skeptical of the courts with a preference for legislation?

6 And is that any different than where he fell on the spectrum in 1994?

7 Historical Context

8  Obama’s Relationship with Derrick Bell  March 2012: Video recording of Obama’s brief introduction of Bell given at a protest over faculty diversity at Harvard on April 24,  Fox News, Breitbart.com; Politico  Obama’s mentors at Harvard Law School  Obama’s “lost law review article”  Laurence Tribe’s article

9   Provided a list of the required and optional readings for the first four class meetings.  After the first four meetings, readings assigned by the student groups leading the weekly seminar discussion.  Student group assignments are not included in the syllabus.  Twelve topic areas that students might use as the basis for their presentations, and Obama’s suggested approaches to present the topics. The Syllabus

10   What did Obama think mattered in the area of racism and law?  What did Obama leave out?  What topics did Obama suggest to his students for their presentations? The Syllabus

11   An hour-long group presentation accounted = 40%  Each student group selected a topic, provided the class with about fifty pages of reading on the topics, and then led the class discussion for an hour.  Paper (at least twelve pages) = 40%  Any topic as long as the student had “broken some sweat trying to figure out the problem in all its wonderful complexity.”  Obama also asked for “a thorough examination of the diversity of opinion that exists on the issue or theme.”  No requirement of research beyond the class material and discussion.  Reading quiz (included identification of sources, quotes from the reading) and class participation = 20% The Elements of the Course

12  Theory and Antebellum History  The first class: “theory” and cases on slavery and Native Americans before the Civil War.  Theory: Excerpts from George Fredrickson’s The Arrogance of Race, Anthony Appiah’s essay on “Racism,” and an excerpt from Appiah’s essay on the “Uncompleted Argument: DuBois and the Illusion of Race.” The Reading Assignments

13  Theory and Antebellum History (cont.)  Response by “Speckled Snake”  Vattel’s Law of Nations  Hugh Henry Brackenridge’s Law Miscellanies  Chief Justice John Marshall’s opinion in Johnson v. M’Intosh The Reading Assignments

14  Theory and Antebellum History (cont.)  Gobu v. Gobu  Hudgins v. Wrights  Sawney v. Carter  S tate v. Mann The Reading Assignments

15  Theory and Antebellum History (cont.)  The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850  Brief address by Millard Fillmore regarding the Compromise of 1850  Three excerpts from anti-slavery advocates regarding the Act: Frederick Douglass’ “Is it Right to Kill a Kidnapper,” “The Right to Criticize,” and an unidentified speech from Martin Delany.  Optional reading of Dred Scott or Derrick Bell’s synopsis of the case. The Reading Assignments

16  Reconstruction to Civil Rights  Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments,  The Civil Rights Act of 1866  South Carolina’s Black Codes  Enforcement Act of 1870  Civil Rights Act of 1875  Slaughterhouse Cases, Civil Rights Cases, United States v. Cruikshank, Giles v. Harris, and Plessy v. Ferguson. The Reading Assignments (cont.)

17  Reconstruction to Civil Rights  Excerpts from Frederick Douglass on the Civil Rights Cases  An account from 1910 of how few African Americans actually served on juries  A historian’s account of lynching  Bell’s summary of the Civil War amendments and Reconstruction  Excerpts from Booker T. Washington’s Up from Slavery, W.E.B. DuBois’ The Souls of Black Folk, and Marcus Garvey’s Philosophy and Opinions. The Reading Assignments (cont.)

18  Civil Rights and Retrenchment  Brown, Robert Bork’s 1963 New Republic article  Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”  Excerpts from Cooper v. Aaron, Griffin v. County Board of Prince Edward County, Green v. County School Board, Pasadena Board of Education v. Spangler, Milliken v. Bradley, Hills v. Gautreaux, and Milliken II.  San Antonio v. Rodriguez  Washington v. Davis  Arlington Heights v. Metro Housing  Articles from a symposium on Wards Cove Packing Company v. Atonio in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. The Reading Assignments (cont.)

19  “Where Do We Go from Here?”  “Employment and Race-Class Conflict”(from Bell’s textbook)  Introduction to Faces at the Bottom of the Well.  Shelby Steele Steele’s “I’m Black, You’re White, Who’s Innocent”  William Julius Wilson’s The Truly Disadvantaged  New Black Middle Class  John Bunzel’s “Black and White at Stanford ” The Reading Assignments (cont.)

20  “Where Do We Go from Here?”  Three pieces from the New York Times :  One addressing the difficulty of integration;  Another highlighting merchants’ bias against African American shoppers; and  Cornel West’s article Learning to Talk of Race. The Reading Assignments (cont.)

21  Group Presentation Topics Meanings and Origins

22   Obama suggested about a dozen topics  Groups had substantial flexibility in choosing a topic  Class reading assignments  Obama’s debt to Derrick Bell minimal  Suggested group discussion topics...  Obama’s political aspirations  Reluctance to take controversial positions in matters of race The Presence of CRT in the Group Presentations

23   While there were non-CRT scholars simultaneously writing about these topics as well, it is interesting to note that ten of the twelve suggested topics reflect the ten key tenets of CRT identified in a 1993 article by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic ( Critical Race Theory: An Annotated Bibliography)  Student groups researching these topics might have discovered these articles  Whether they agreed with the ideas or not, the students would have presented them to the class as part of Obama’s mandate “to draw out the full spectrum of views on the issue.” The Presence of CRT in the Group Presentations

24   Obama reportedly refrained from direct Socratic questioning and instead opted to engage in more discussion and debate with his students.  Adjunct professor, maintained a position with a local civil rights law firm, and served as a State Senator.  Limited time to develop a comprehensive syllabus:  Work he performed as a research assistant for Laurence Tribe and as president of the Harvard Law Review  May also have relied upon an article published the year before he taught the class by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, “ Critical Race Theory: An Annotated Bibliography” to develop his suggested approaches to the group presentations. The Presence of CRT in the Group Presentations

25   Outlines the ten fundamental tenets of Critical Race Theory  Top one hundred CRT articles and books published in the preceding twenty years.  Brief summary of the main points of each article  Identifies which of the ten fundamental tenets each included.  Includes the scholarship of Derrick Bell. Critical Race Theory: An Annotated Bibliography

26   10 of the 12 topics suggested by Obama for student group presentations (and every suggested subtopics for those ten) appear in Delgado and Stefanic’s CRT bibliography.  Tenets were often interlaced in the class discussion questions.  Obama did not require or encourage outside research for the students’ papers.  He asked students to apply the concepts discussed in class and covered in the readings. Critical Race Theory: An Annotated Bibliography

27   Importance of acknowledging—and then teaching—students to identify the racial issues that underlie many aspects of the law.  Charles Lawrence’s The Word and the River: Pedagogy as Scholarship as Struggle, provides suggestions for how to teach CRT.  Lawrence encouraged his students to wrestle with how to “become effective advocates for liberation while living and working within institutions and cultures that appeared hell- bent on perpetuating racist domination.”  There is no evidence that Obama read Lawrence, but there are similarities between Obama’s method and the “student- centered, student-generated pedagogical method” that Lawrence advanced. CRT Pedagogy

28   It is an odd list of topics.  Includes: All black, all male school & interracial adoptions  Does not include: Affirmative action in higher education and large-scale desegregation of primary and secondary schools  Obama offered students a set of questions on these potentially controversial topics.  Obama provided a summary and suggestions for framing the class discussion.  The introductory commentary to each topic is effectively a “pre-reading” exercise designed to shape the research and presentations. CRT and the Student Group Presentation Topics

29  Racial Gerrymandering The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was designed to enforce the fifteenth amendment, and ensure the full and equal enfranchisement of minorities in the political process. But with the elimination of such obvious barriers to voting as the poll tax and literacy tests, what constitutes a violation of the Act? Some commentators and courts have insisted that such facially neutral practices as the at-large voting district dilute minority voting strength, and have designed single-member, "super-majority" districts that ensure minorities are elected to various political offices. Others say that the drawing of district lines to ensure the success of minority candidates (as opposed to the ability of minorities to vote) amounts to nothing more than racial gerrymandering, encourages racial block voting, and further isolates blacks and other minorities from the broader political community. CRT and the Student Group Presentation Topics

30  Racial Gerrymandering  Following the publication of the 1990 census, there was an increasing academic interest in the subject—over a dozen articles published between 1990 and  Cardozo Law Review’s 1993 Symposium on Districting  The summaries in Delgado and Stefancic’s CRT bibliography identified four articles dealing with this issue  Articles addressed the purpose of the Voting Rights Act and its modern application, and the manners in which racism continued to penetrate the electoral process. CRT and the Student Group Presentation Topics

31  Racial Gerrymandering  Obama suggested the group presentations center on voter dilution, racial bloc voting, the purported effect of these efforts to isolate minority groups, and determining what constitutes a modern violation of the Voting Rights Act of  Two articles by Lani Guinier, and included in the CRT bibliography, offer the comprehensive analysis Obama sought. CRT and the Student Group Presentation Topics

32  Criminal Legislation that Targets Minorities? Recently, a Minnesota state court held that a criminal statute that punishes possession of crack more severely than possession of cocaine is discriminatory, insofar as crack is the drug of choice in the black community, while cocaine is more popular among the wine and brie crowd. Likewise, some commentators have argued that legislation that imposes additional penalties on women who use drugs during pregnancy are racially biased. Do such arguments have any merit? CRT and the Student Group Presentation Topics

33  Welfare Policy and Reproductive Freedom The politics of welfare appears inseparable from the politics of race, despite the oft-quoted statistic that the majority of those on welfare are white. Recently, commentators have been revisiting the issue of child-bearing among the poor, and asking some difficult questions. Should we change welfare policy so that welfare grants no longer increase with each child? Should judges or welfare agencies have the power to restrict the reproductive choices of mothers who are found to have neglected their children, or take drugs during pregnancy? Are commentators who say such policies smack of "racial genocide" misguided? CRT and the Student Group Presentation Topics

34  Welfare Policy and Reproductive Freedom  Three articles included in the Delgado and Stefancic CRT bibliography directly addressed Obama’s suggested topic as perceived by women of color.  Obama’s query as to whether these policies “smack of ‘racial genocide’” was echoed by at least one CRT scholar. CRT and the Student Group Presentation Topics

35  Critical Race Pragmatism

36   Obama followed the model set by many CRT scholars  His students appreciated the way he shared personal anecdotes, his engaging personality and his seemingly softer approach to teaching.  Even the course reading packet purportedly included his own notes in the margins which he comments is the result, as an adjunct, of not having a teaching assistant. Obama’s Critical Race Pedagogy

37   Good teachers, as Charles Lawrence reminds us, allow their students to find their own answers and have no need to be the center of attention, nor the imparters of wisdom.  Such a teacher thoughtfully provides just enough material so the student will find the desired answer; but the student believes the discovery to be solely due to his efforts, his insightfulness, his intelligence, and thus “owns” the new, cherished information. Obama’s Critical Race Pedagogy

38   The relationship Obama built with his students, the structure of the assigned readings, the directions to guide the students to complete their paper, and his suggested approaches to the student presentations could be interpreted to have provided such a learning experience about CRT.  There is no overt mention of CRT or interest-convergence or other “radical” theories in Obama’s 1994 syllabus.  For someone with lofty aspirations and a tenuous place in the world where race was so important, taking a stand on issues of race had the potential to alienate supporters. Obama’s Critical Race Pedagogy

39  Was Critical Race Theory the “desired answer” that the Obama intended the students to find? Obama’s Critical Race Pedagogy


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