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283.4 sec. 1 - Advanced Civil Rights (Fall 2014)

Instructor: john a. powell  (view instructor's profile)
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Units: 3
Meeting Time: Th 3:35-6:15
Meeting Location: 111

Course Start: August 28, 2014
Course Control Number (Non-1Ls): 49835


Advance Civil Rights: Course Description



This course will look at the historical and current relations between corporations, race and democratic society. There is a deep relationship between how we think of corporations and the rights and social-political space they occupy, and the space for marginal groups, especially people of color and women. This relation is seldom explored or understood. This failure has important implication for our democracy, civil rights, and our economy. To the extent that we discuss this at all, it is framed in terms of public and private. This is a mistake that obscures the dynamic between people and corporations and what is at stake.


This course will look at the foundation of civil rights with a focus on how issues of public and private have shaped the understanding and jurisprudence of civil rights. We will examine how the public, private issues are more appropriately described as public, private, non-public/non-private, and corporate. The later part of the course will look at how these divisions both interact, and how the courts and society understand these issues. This will also entail us looking at contemporary issues including the role of government and the market but through a historical and jurisprudential lens. The debates of race and slavery have played an important and under theorized role in this development, and continue to have important implications for how we address issues like campaign finance, immigration and the role of the Court. The issue of public and private is largely about who or what is afforded Constitutional Rights. This issue was initially framed around the rights of blacks around the Civil War on one hand and corporations on the other. It would later have implications for women and other groups including discussions today about the role of corporation versus people.


We will read complete texts of early cases such as Dartmouth College, Dred Scott, Lochner and others from this perspective. One of the assertions in this course will be the close but inverse connection with civil rights and corporate prerogative. We will also touch on the role of corporate governance and its role in this misalignment. Better understanding the dynamics of corporation and race has important implication for how we think about regulations, inequality and what it means to belong to society. We will read supporting material from law reviews and more popular books such as Categorically Unequal by Douglass Massey. The course will also draw on issues related to institutional design.


There will be a 20 page paper required for this course and students will have the option of writing a 30 page paper to meet the law school writing requirement. Class participation will count for 20% of the grade.

This course may satisfy the Writing Requirement.

Exam Notes: P
Course Category: Social Justice and Public Interest

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