Supreme Court May Outlaw Affirmative Action; and Up Against the Law: Radical Lawyers and Social Movements, 1960s-1970s

Supreme Court May Outlaw Affirmative Action

In 2003, the Supreme Court held in the case of Grutter v. Bollinger that the 14th Amendment allows public universities to consider race as a factor to assemble a diverse student body. The Court reaffirmed that holding in 2016. There are now two cases pending on the Courts docket that it may well use to overrule Grutter and gut affirmative action. The Court will hear oral argument in these two cases on October 31.

The Students for Fair Admissions is suing Harvard and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, asking the Court to overturn Grutter. The group says its mission is helping to restore colorblind principles to our nations schools, colleges and universities.

Colorblind is a euphemism for allowing the conditions that created the racial inequality and unequal opportunity to continue.

UNC-Chapel Hill, wrote education journalist Nick Anderson in the Washington Post, was founded to educate the enslaving elite of this Southern state, allied for generations with the cause of white supremacy, roiled by racial tensions in recent years over the fate of a Confederate monument and treatment of Black faculty members.

On October 4, the Court heard oral argument in Merrill v. Milligan, which the conservative majority will likely use to uphold Alabamas racist gerrymandered district map. During the argument, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson mentioned the race-conscious goal of the drafters of the 14th Amendment, who were trying to ensure that people who had been discriminated against were actually brought equal to everyone else in society. Thats not a race-neutral or race-blind idea, Jackson said.

With the radical right-wing supermajority on the Supreme Court, it is likely that the Court will outlaw affirmative action, using the so-called colorblind rationale.

Guest – Jason Williamson is Executive Director of the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at New York University School of Law. He teaches a course in Social Justice Lawyering and runs the Racial Justice Clinic.


Up Against the Law: Radical Lawyers and Social Movements, 1960s-1970s

The 1960s and 1970s weren’t just the time when protesters took to the streets to fight for civil rights, and against the Vietnam War. It was also a period when radical lawyers defended dissidents and worked closely with them to bring their messages into the nations courtrooms and into the public sphere.

Luca Falciola has just published a book about the militant attorneys who fought for social change arm-in-arm with activists. Breaking from the traditional role of attorneys, they identified with their clients and their causes, and challenged the conservative rules and trappings of the legal profession. The book is titled Up Against the Law: Radical Lawyers and Social Movements, 1960s-1970s, published by the University of North Carolina Press.

At the heart of this work is the history of the National Lawyers Guild. Founded in 1937, the Guild was established as an alternative to the American Bar Association which was not racially integrated. Since Law & Disorder Radio began airing in 2005, its cohosts have been longtime Guild members and leaders. Many of our guests are Guild members as well.

Guest – Luca Falciola is a lecturer at Columbia University. His publications include the award-winning book about the Movement of 1977 in Italy, and several articles on various aspects of contentious politics between the 1960s and the 1980s.

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