Civ Rts Litigation (LAW-795RT-001)
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Civil Rights Litigation (Spring 2014)
Office Hours Tuesday and Thursdays 4-6 p.m. and by appointment
In Civil Rights Litigation for Spring 2015, 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 a discussion of the role of federal civil and criminal civil rights law in addressing the police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. We’ll consider the applicability of 18 U.S.C. 242, which imposes criminal penalties for deprivation of federal rights, as well as section 14141, which allows the Department of Justice to bring a civil suit to redress a pattern or practice of violations of federal rights. The second unit will focus on two cases pending in the Court challenging the redistricting of Alabama’s legislative seats as racially discriminatory. The final unit will examine Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, which poses the question whether discriminatory effects, in the absence of a finding of discriminatory purpose, are sufficient to violate the Fair Housing Act. We will examine the case and the challenges to discriminatory impact standards in other statutes, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Each unit will start with background to build an understanding of the legal underpinnings of the litigation. In the second and third units, we will examine the petitions for certiorari and what they tell us about the Supreme 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. I, of course, reserve the right to restructure the course if the Supreme Court takes a compelling civil rights issue.
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.
Students will be expected to participate actively in class. There will be several opportunities for structured role-playing and debate, in addition to regular classroom discussion. Classroom participation will constitute 15% of the final grade. Each of the in-class essays will contribute 25% toward the final grade and the final take-home essay will count as 35% of the final grade.
Textbooks and Other Materials
The textbook information on this page was provided by the instructor. Students should use this information when considering purchases from the AU Campus Store or other vendors. Students may check to determine if books are currently available for purchase online.
First Class Readings
Not available at this time.