Are African-Americans still protected by equal protection?
VOLOKH at mail.law.ucla.edu
Thu Sep 7 16:49:43 PDT 2000
This is all quite on-topic, but let me suggest that the question
"Are African-Americans still protected by equal protection?"
and the question
"Has the Supreme Court had a recent case in which a black
plaintiff successfully claimed that a state was unconstitutionally
discriminating on the basis of race?"
are two *very* different questions. (I assume that Andy is asking about
Supreme Court cases, though he doesn't literally say as much.)
To draw an analogy, I can't think of any recent Supreme Court cases
in which a plaintiff successfully claimed that the government imprisoned him
because he wrote an anti-government publication; but it hardly follows that
anti-government publications are no longer protected by the Free Speech
Clause. Perhaps, rather, the protection offered such publications is so
clear that the Court doesn't see any need to revisit the issue in exercising
its discretionary certiorari power. Likewise, I think, for the proposition
that racial discrimination by state governments against blacks is generally
(I use "black" advisedly, albeit nitpickingly, since equal
protection doctrine bars states from discriminating based on race against
blacks who aren't Americans, e.g., black residents who are still foreign
nationals, as much as it would protect African-Americans.)
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Andrew Koppelman [SMTP:akoppelman at NWU.EDU]
> Sent: Thursday, September 07, 2000 3:43 PM
> To: CONLAWPROF at listserv.ucla.edu
> Subject: Are African-Americans still protected by equal protection?
> I'm teaching fourteenth amendment this term, and am trying to remember
> the last case is in which an African-American plaintiff successfully
> claimed that a state was unconstitutionally discriminating on the basis of
> race. My guess is that it was Batson v. Kentucky in 1986, and I can't
> guess what the last one was before that. Am I correct? I suppose that
> there are also some school desegregation cases in which the lower court's
> decree was upheld. But my impression is that most of the work that the
> equal protection clause now does in the world is to protect white people
> from affirmative action programs.
> I'd like to have the views of this list's members, but am doubtful whether
> this is worth starting an on-list thread over. There are issues of
> constitutional law, but they are likely to be tediously familiar to
> everyone. I just want to get the facts straight. Eugene, can you offer
> some guidance on this? But I'd be very grateful for off-list responses.
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