MVV169K Racism and the Law

Faculty of Law
Autumn 2017
Extent and Intensity
0/1/0. 5 credit(s). Type of Completion: k (colloquium).
Paul Von Blum (lecturer), doc. JUDr. Ing. Michal Radvan, Ph.D. (deputy)
doc. JUDr. Ing. Michal Radvan, Ph.D.
Faculty of Law
Contact Person: Mgr. Věra Redrupová, B.A.
Supplier department: Faculty of Law
Timetable of Seminar Groups
MVV169K/01: Wed 27. 9. 8:00–9:30 025, 9:35–11:05 025, Fri 29. 9. 8:00–9:30 215, 9:35–11:05 215, 11:10–12:40 215, 13:30–15:00 215, 15:05–16:35 215
Course Enrolment Limitations
The course is only offered to the students of the study fields the course is directly associated with.

The capacity limit for the course is 30 student(s).
Current registration and enrolment status: enrolled: 35/30, only registered: 4/30
Fields of study the course is directly associated with
there are 31 fields of study the course is directly associated with, display
Course objectives
At the end of the course students should be able to understand that American legal developments about race relations are entirely linked to American history and politics and how the American legal profession has played a huge role in these developments for more than two centuries.
  • 1. Introduction and Overview (Lecture/Discussion 1)
  • At the outset, we will consider the close relationships of race and law within the broader context of American history and politics. The opening provides a general overview of the major themes and topics for the mini-course as a whole. Before starting on a chronological approach, the Introduction will focus initially on one of the most controversial topics in recent American law and politics: racial profiling. Examples include the well-publicized cases of Rodney King, Latasha Harlins, Abner Louima, Abner Louima, Amadou Diallo, Oscar Grant, Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Eric Harris, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, and others. I will also show a short video my graduate student and I produced entitled “Racism and the Law.”
  • 2. The Historical Sources and Development of Racist and Anti-racist Legal Doctrines (Lecture/Discussion 2)
  • Students will develop a broad historical perspective by examining the basic legal foundations of racism and the legal response to these principles. Included will be the Constitutional sources establishing the legal subordination of African Americans; the Fugitive Slave Act and the Dred Scott v. Sanford decision; the Emancipation Proclamation, and the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution; the post-Reconstruction racist laws of Southern states, and the Supreme Court validation of discrimination (the Civil Rights cases); and the “separate but equal” doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson.
  • 3/4. The Legal Drive Towards Civil Rights (Lecture/Discussions 3 and 4)
  • These presentation will survey legal developments from the early 20th century through the 1970s. During that time, civil rights lawyers mounted successful challenges to racially discriminatory practices in several fields. Students will consider developments in such areas as education, voting, personal relationships between racial groups, equal accommodations, voting, housing, and protection of social protest activities. Among the cases and legislation to be considered will be Sweatt v. Painter, Smith v. Allwright, Shelly v. Kraemer, Brown v. Board of Education (1 and 2), Loving v. Virginia, and the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965.
  • 5/6. The Retreat from Civil Rights (Lecture/Discussion 5/6) From the late 70s to the present, increasingly conservative national politics and the changing composition of the Supreme Court have provided major challenges to civil rights lawyers in America. Students will consider the restrictions on affirmative action in such areas as education and employment. We will consider such cases as Regents of the University of California v. Bakke and excerpts of various Supreme Court decisions from 1994 and 1995. Students will also discuss the anti-affirmative action initiatives including California’s Proposition 209 and the decision in 2013 from the U.S. Supreme Court that eliminated some of the provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that gave African Americans equal access to voting rights in the U.S.
  • 7. The Role and Limitations of the Law in Responding to Racial Discrimination (Lecture/Discussion 7) In this presentation, students will consider the impact and limitations of legal strategies in the continuing struggles for civil rights. The major focus will be on how law plays a role in the historical battle to gain legal, political, and social equity for African Americans and other minority groups. A key emphasis will examine how lawyers can assist in reducing racism; this involves not only their efforts in the courtroom and filing anti-racist lawsuits, but other actions that can be effective in eliminating or reducing racism. As a comparative element, the present situation of the Roma minority in the Czech Republic will be briefly discussed, along with discussion about the possible role of Czech lawyers in addressing issues of discrimination against that population.
  • Paul Von Blum, RACISM AND THE LAW
Teaching methods
lectures, presentations, discussions
Assessment methods
Students will write an essay of approximately one-page in the final class session offering their personal reactions to whichever cases or events covered in class that they find most important or personally engaging. They will have wide latitude here and they may draw on any of the materials covered, including the initial video, the legal cases, or any of the instructor’s presentations.
Language of instruction
Further comments (probably available only v češtině)
The course is taught only once.
The course is also listed under the following terms Spring 2015.
  • Enrolment Statistics (recent)
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