796 20 K - Seminar - Race/Class Social Policy and the Law
Professor: john a. powell
Semester: 2009 Winter
Second Writing? Yes
Professional Responsibility? No
In legal jurisprudence, as well as social policy, issues of race and socioeconomic status or class have been used as alternative and sometimes conflicting ways of understanding as well as addressing social concerns. Justice O’Connor, for example, in the Croson case expressed the Court’s preference for using class instead of race for set-asides and affirmative action. Similarly after the 5th Circuit struck down Bakke’s use of race-based affirmative action, the Texas legislature adopted a class-based affirmative action plan which the Court has upheld, and many pundits have lauded. Hurricane Katrina at least temporarily shattered the country’s assumption that race has lost salience for understanding and addressing social issues in the United States. When can class approaches do the work of race, and vice versa? Part of the difficulty with these approaches is that there is little understanding of what “race,” and by extension, “racism” is, and what work it does in our society. There is also confusion about the concept of class. This course will examine some of the various meanings and uses of both race and class in our courts and the public policy arena. It will not only look at these issues in their own right but also consider what the relationship between them is and how this understanding should inform our social and legal approach to pressing social issues. While the primary focus will be in the United States, we will consider how other societies understand and approach these issues as well, and how these understandings change over time.
The course materials listed above are for informational purposes only and should not be considered final. Students must check with the Registrar for a current list of closed courses.