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Civ Rts Litigation (LAW-795RT-001)
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In Civil Rights Litigation for spring 2014, we will focus on three major civil rights issues. Two of these issues will be considered by the Supreme Court this Term and the third builds on last Term’s Voting Rights Act case. The course will be roughly equally divided among the three topics. At the conclusion of each of the first two units, students will write a graded in-class essay. At the end of the course, students will write a third graded essay as a final take-home examination.
We will begin with the return of affirmative action to the Supreme Court in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action. The second unit will examine Mt. Holly v. Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens in Action, which poses the question whether discriminatory effects are sufficient to violate the Fair Housing Act. Finally, we will look at last Term’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, striking down the Voting Rights Act’s preclearance coverage formula, and examine its aftermath, including ongoing litigation to enforce section 2 of the Act in Texas and North Carolina. Each unit will start with background to build an understanding of the legal underpinnings of the litigation, followed by a close reading of lower court opinions. We will examine the petitions for certiorari and what they tell us about the Court’s reasons for taking the cases. We will then read briefs filed in the cases, study the transcripts of oral arguments, and discuss commentary on the cases and the issues they present.
The goals of the class are to gain insight into the process of high-stakes civil rights litigation, including the legal, strategic, and policy choices that drive it; deepen substantive knowledge of civil rights law; experience civil rights litigation from the litigator’s perspective, including enhancing understanding of the factors that are likely to influence individual Justices; and strengthen the ability to write and speak about these topics.
Textbooks and Other Materials
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First Class Readings
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