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Race Against the Court
Race Against the Court
About This Book
"Must reading for anyone who seeks a better understanding of the U.S. Supreme Court's role in race relations policy."
"Beware! Those committed to the Supreme Court as the ultimate defender of minority rights should not read Race Against the Court. Through a systematic peeling away of antimajoritarian myth, Spann reveals why the measure of relief the Court grants victims of racial injustice is determined less by the character of harm suffered by blacks than the degree of disadvantage the relief sought will impose on whites. A truly pathbreaking work."
As persuasive as it is bold. Race Against The Court stands as a necessary warning to a generation of progressives who have come to depend on the Supreme Court of the perils of such dependency. It joins with Bruce Ackerman's We, the People and John Brigham's Cult of the Court as the best in contemporary work on the Supreme Court.
—Austin Sarat, William Nelson,Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, Amherst College
The controversies surrounding the nominations, confirmations, and rejections of recent Supreme Court justices, and the increasingly conservative nature of the Court, have focused attention on the Supreme Court as never before. Although the Supreme Court is commonly understood to be the guardian of minority rights against the tyranny of the majority, Race Against The Court argues that the Court has never successfully performed this function. Rather the actual function of the Court has been to perpetuate the subordination of racial minorities by operating as an undetected agent of majoritarian preferences in the political preferences. In this provocative, controversial, and timely work, Girardeau Spann illustrates how the selection process for Supreme Court justices ensures that they will share the political preferences of the elite majority that runs the nation. Customary safeguards that are designed to protect the judicial process from majoritarian predispositions, Spann contends, cannot successfully insulate judicial decisionmaking from the pervasive societal pressures that exist to discount racial minority interests.
The case most often cited as the icon of Court sensitivity to minority rights, Brown v. Board of Education, has more recently served to lull minorities into believing that efforts at political self-determination are futile, fostering a seductive dependence and overreliance on the Court as the caretaker of minority rights. Race Against The Court demonstrates how the Court has centralized the law of affirmative action in a way that stymies minority efforts for meaningful political and economic gain and how it has legitimated the legal status quo in a way that causes minorities never even to question the inevitability of their subordinate social status.
Spann contends that racial minorities would be better off seeking to advance their interests in the pluralist political process and proposes a novel strategy for minorities to pursue in order to extricate themselves from the seemingly inescapable grasp of Supreme Court protection. Certain to generate lively, heated debate, Race Against The Court exposes the veiled majoritarianism of the Supreme Court and the dangers of allowing the Court to formulate our national racial policy.