LAW 5648: Civil Rights Litigation Seminar
This seminar will be a historical consideration of civil rights litigation strategies both before and after Brown v. Board of Education (1954). We will begin by surveying both the efforts that led to Brown and the professional debates about Brown’s meaning and limitations. We will then shift to a related topic whose own litigation history, initially based upon the Brown model, shows how attorney strategies can go awry: the mid and late 1960s attempt to create federal constitutional guarantees for welfare rights. We will then return to a focus on Brown’s legacy in both the South and the North. We will conclude by examining the limitations--limitations of litigation, limitations of doctrine, and limitations of statutory enactments--that these dual legal histories of race and poverty appear to highlight. Our consistent focus will be on (1) what this history teaches us about attorneys’ litigation strategies and (2) what overarching limits there may be on attaining fundamental change through the litigation process.