This course examines the legal history of the interrelationship of race and the law in the United States across the 19th and 20th centuries. The course pays special attention to the active role that law has played historically in racially defining U.S. and state citizenship and the consequent rights and duties that flowed from the use of race as a measure of national as well as local belonging. The changing nature of the relationship of race to American law over time was an important determiner of inclusion and exclusion in the US and a site for the legal construction of socio-economic inequality as well as moments of more equitable aspiration. The course will attempt to incorporate both lecture material as well as the close discussion of secondary studies by leading legal-historical scholars as we survey major cases and controversies, from the legal and constitutional roots of slavery to the infamous Dred Scott decision; from American Indian dispossession to an overseas empire; from the role of judicial statutory interpretation in defining race to epic turn-of-the-century battles over immigration restriction to the civil rights revolution of the late 20th century and its consequences and limitations. A key feature of this class will be the use of locally as well as nationally-renowned speakers to aid in our collective exploration of the relationship of law and race over the course of American history.
For details on class times, days of the week, instructors, and grading and exam details, please view the Michigan Law Class Schedule.