It has been more than sixty years since Brown v. Board of Education, and our country still presents children with dual and unequal systems of education. Not only are students segregated between school districts, but segregation is happening within school buildings as well as through tracking. Tracking is the process by which students are placed into higher or lower subject-specific courses such as math or science—sometimes as early as elementary school—based on their perceived abilities. This practice prohibits many students from accessing high-level courses. Courses such as Advanced Placement (AP) and honors classes have become indispensable for applying to college, but under a tracked system, if students do not take advanced classes in middle school, they will likely not be able to take advanced courses before graduating high school. Proponents of tracking argue that it is an efficient model of education that allows students to learn based on their skill level, but research shows that students are tracked along racial and class lines rather than on “ability.” Tracking causes both academic and psychological harm to students in lower tracks, and the opportunities students in higher tracks receive, as opposed to their innate intellectual abilities, are what cause them to succeed. In this Note, I argue that tracking is an inherently inequitable system that should be abolished since it denies so many students the resources, learning opportunities, and access to higher-level courses needed to succeed in today’s society. The legal tools that have been employed to dismantle this system under federal law—the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act—have had limited success, so this Note points to state law as a possible solution. State constitutions contain educational mandates and equal protection clauses that together require states to provide children with an equal educational opportunity. Under this doctrine, many courts have established that states must provide students with the opportunity to gain the skills necessary to compete in a changing society. Although state equal educational opportunity litigation has primarily occurred in the school finance context, this legal tool could be extended to tracking. A finding that tracking violates a student’s right to an equal educational opportunity would require school districts to detrack and open the door so that all students, regardless of race, class, or parental influence, have the opportunity to succeed.
Scholars view Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District as the high-water mark of student speech protection and the Supreme Court’s subsequent decisions, Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser, Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, and Morse v. Frederick (the Bong Hits case) as a considerable retreat from this mark. By contrast, this Note argues that Tinker, while employing strongly speech-protective rhetoric, nonetheless requires courts to defer to educators’ reasonable determinations of what speech may cause a substantial disruption and provides only very modest protection for student speech. Comparing the Tinker standard to those of Fraser and Kuhlmeier reveals that it gives no less deference to educators, and little more protection to student speech. As a consequence of misconstruing Tinker, Fraser, and Kuhlmeier, scholars have failed to address why Bong Hits’ requirement of deference to educators’ reasonable judgments is any less acceptable than Tinker’s. Deference under Tinker recognizes the difficulty inherent in predicting the potential consequences of speech without eliminating the limited protection provided by Tinker’s required showing of potential disruption. By contrast, the sole protection Bong Hits provides is in maintaining the line between advocacy and nonadvocacy, yet deferring to the reasonable judgments of educators on this question blurs the line considerably, thereby largely eliminating protection for student speech. To illuminate the differences between the Tinker and Bong Hits tests, this Note analogizes to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’s “clear and present danger” and Judge Learned Hand’s “express advocacy” tests and concludes that the special policy considerations that apply to the school environment do not justify departing from the principles underlying these paradigmatic First Amendment standards.
The ubiquity of cell phones has transformed police investigations. Tracking a suspect’s movements by following her phone is now a common but largely unnoticed surveillance technique. It is useful, no doubt, precisely because it is so revealing; it also raises significant privacy concerns. In this Note, I consider what the procedural requirements for cell phone tracking should be by examining the relevant statutory and constitutional law. Ultimately, the best standard is probable cause; only an ordinary warrant can satisfy the text of the statutes and the mandates of the Constitution.
While Indian tribes bordering the United States and Canada may share the same culture, the same ancestry, and even the same name, a descendant of common heritage may not be recognized as “Indian” in the United States, and thus not eligible to receive federal benefits. The federal government has the power to recognize an Indian tribe’s sovereignty and determine who is an “Indian” for tribal services, but limits such recognition to those tribes falling within the geographic limits of the United States. With respect to members of “border tribes” that historically traversed the U.S.-Canada border, “Indian” recognition can be denied to an individual because each federally recognized tribe is subsequently required to limit its membership to those whose lineage can be traced directly to that particular tribe’s location within the United States, regardless of tribal heritage predating the border. The result is a gap in recognition: Many descendants of border tribes are born and raised on one side of the border but only recognized as “Indian” on the other. In the United States, ineligibility for affirmative action—both public and private—is one symptom of this gap in recognition. This Note argues that non-recognition of American Indians for affirmative action purposes illustrates how the federal government’s failure to account for descendants of border tribes prevents the United States from wholly meeting its trust obligation, and proposes ways the government can permanently repair its trust relationship with Indian tribes in this narrow context. It discusses three methods for establishing cross-border affirmative action for American Indians: ratification of a bilateral agreement or enactment of domestic statutory reform within the United States, intertribal recognition of membership between U.S. and Canadian tribes, and a potential short-term solution calling upon private initiatives to embrace a broad cross-border definition of “Indian.” This Note concludes that intertribal recognition is impractical due to existing hostility— both on the part of tribes and their respective federal trustees—to the concept of dual tribal enrollment. Further, while private-sector mechanisms may provide a stopgap solution to the problem, they cannot adequately address the federal standards that perpetuate the gap in recognition. In order to fully cure this defect and fulfill the government’s enduring trust responsibility, Congress must take legislative action to close the gap in recognition and provide equal opportunity for affirmative action to all American Indians in the United States.
In its Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence, the Supreme Court regards intentional discrimination as the principal source of racial injury in the United States. In this Article, R.A. Lenhardt argues that racial stigma, not intentional discrimination, constitutes the main source of racial harm and that courts must take the social science insight that most racialized conduct or thought is unconscious, rather than intentional, into account in their constitutional analyses of acts or policies challenged on the grounds of race. Drawing on the social science work of Erving Goffmanbreaking work of Charles H. Lawrence, Professor Lenhardt argues that courts should reframe the constitutional inquiry to account for the risk or evidence of stigmatic harm to racial minorities. Professor Lenhardt explains that stigmatic harm occurs when a given act or policy sends the message that racial difference renders a person or a group inferior to Whites, the category constructed as the racial norm. This stigma imposes what Professor Lenhardt calls citizenship harms, which prevent members of racial minorities from participating fully in society in a variety of contexts. Professor Lenhardthistorical context of the challenged act or policy. Third, they should evaluate the current context of the act or policy, including consideration of a possible disparate impact on members of racial minorites. Finally, courts should consider the probable future effects of the act or policy in terms of its likely citizenship effects on members of racial minorities. Professor Lenhardt argues that, while the use of this test will not eliminate racial harms altogether, it will enable courts and policymakers to engage in a disciplined and systematic analysis of racial harm which will ultimately provide the basis for more effective means of addressing racial stigma and persistent racial inequalities in the United States.
Courts and scholars have operated on the implicit assumption that the Supreme Court’s “one person, one vote” jurisprudence put redistricting politics on a fixed, ten-year cycle. Recent redistricting controversies in Colorado, Texas, and elsewhere, however, have undermined this assumption, highlighting the fact that most states are currently free to redraw election districts as often as they like. This essay explores whether partisan fairness-a normative commitment that both scholars and the Supreme Court have identified as a central concern of districting arrangements-would be promoted by a procedural rule limiting the frequency of redistricting. While the literature has not considered this question, scholars generally are pessimistic about the capacity of procedural redistricting regulations to curb partisan gerrymandering. In contrast, this essay argues that a procedural rule limiting the frequency of redistricting will promote partisan fairness by introducing beneficial uncertainty in the redistricting process and by regularizing the redistricting agenda.
The Quiet “Welfare” Revolution: Resurrecting the Food Stamp Program in the Wake of the 1996 Welfare Law
Cash-assistance programs have long been a focus of both liberal and conservative efforts to make symbolic statements. In this regard, the 1996 dismantlement of federal entitlement to cash assistance was nothing new. Although the 1996 welfare law also made deep cuts to in-kind programs, such as food stamps, these programs had less symbolic significance and hence were lessoften the target of public attacks. This lower political profile gave the Food Stamp Program room to find positive ways to adapt to the key themes that drove the enactment of the 1996 welfare law.
In the 1996 welfare law’s wake, the Food Stamp Program might have emulated the transformation of cash-assistance programs. Alternatively, it might have adopted a defensive posture. Instead, its supporters transformed it from an adjunct to discredited cash welfare programs into a stable support for low-wage workers. This both helped meet a crucial need of low-income families and improved the program’s political appeal. It also demonstrated that the goals of promoting work, devolving authority to states, and safeguarding program integrity can be achieved in positive ways.
The new Food Stamp Program promotes work through incentives more than sanctions. Its incentive structure changed to encourage states to improve access for low-wage workers, and states received flexibility to make those kinds of innovations rather than ones that would destabilize the program’s national benefit structure. Additionally, enforcement efforts deemphasized minor accounting issues having little bearing on the program’s integrity. Ultimately, these efforts were so successful that President Bush and conservative Republican senators pushed substantial benefit increases through Congress. This success may be a model for the survival and expansion of other programs.
Courts interpreting Title VII have long treated race and ethnicity as biological, morphological concepts and discrimination as a reaction to a set of biologically fixed traits. Meanwhile, they have rejected claims concerning discrimination based on voluntarily chosen physical traits or “performed” behaviors and that communicate racial or ethnic identity. Yet race and ethnicity are effectively produced—that is, they do not exist until one is socially acknowledged as possessing socially coded racial or ethnic markers, whether they are fixed physical features, voluntary appearance choices, or behaviors. This Article argues that it is error to distinguish between Title VII cases concerning morphological as opposed to voluntary racially or ethnically marked features, as the discriminator’s motives and the effects of her behavior are the same. Moreover, the morphological model of race/ethnicity is fundamentally contradicted by contemporary biological and sociological studies on race, discrimination studies, and identity performance theories, which indicate that individuals actively work to “perform” racial and ethnic status regardless of, and sometimes in spite of their morphological traits. Drawing on these studies, this Article shows that courts must hear discrimination claims based on voluntary features if they are to provide a more credible analysis of modern forms of discrimination.
Americans have fiercely debated the proper role of Article III courts in our constitutional system ever since Chief Justice John Marshall declared in Marbury v. Madison that it is “emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.”‘ This debate often has focused on Supreme Court decisions involving some of our nation’s most historic events: the Court’s 1873 evisceration of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities Clause, its use of substantive due process to strike down progressive legislation at the turn of the century, its invalidation of key New Deal programs, and its opinion in Roe v. Wade are but a few of the decisions that have reignited the controversy over the meaning and risks of “judicial activism.”
All Deliberate Speed: Reflections on the First Half Century of Brown v. Board of Education
We live in a nation where equality and integration have proven, and continue to prove, evasive. In 2005, despite the Supreme Court’s 1954 pronouncement in Brown v. Board of Education (Brown I), our public schools remain largely segregated, and there are few signs of improvement. Admittedly, African Americans are on the whole better off today than they were in 1954, but one only need observe any sector of society to realize that we have yet to reach Brown‘s full potential. Indeed, some commentators have labeled Brown‘s promise of equality through the desegregation of our public schools a “discredited goal.” Alas, Brown’s promise has become Brown‘s demise.