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Law and Inequality
The Next 25 Years

February 16, 2007
University of Minnesota Law School

*Register for 6.25 CLE Credits Here. (Event code is 105986)

*Attendance is free and open to the public with no prior registration required


Mark A. Rothstein
Director, Institute for Bioethics, Health Policy and Law
University of Louisville

Most current legal conceptions of equality are based on the assumption that individuals are essentially identical in all relevant ways. New discoveries in genomics, however, are confirming a wide range of genomic variation, including variations that affect drug metabolism, susceptibility to environmental toxins, and predisposition to illness. After examining legal and ethical approaches to equality, the article proposes a new approach to equality based on a recognition of individual genomic variation.

Peter Blanck
University Professor
Syracuse University College of Law

By most accounts, Americans with disabilities today have significantly lower levels of employment than their non-disabled peers. Prior studies generally have relied on a “supply-side” approach, focusing on personal characteristics and limitations to predict employment and earnings. These models have not sufficiently analyzed variables related to social context (i.e. the interaction of employer demand/supply, the environment, civil rights, and corporate culture) as predictors of employment outcomes for people with disabilities. This article reviews past research, driven by a medical model approach, and more recent research driven by a social-civil rights paradigm. We envision future research that may be driven by a more comprehensive social-civil rights-techno model approach. We proceed to describe research efforts that may help to identify and evaluate future employment models. We end with a blueprint for research and policy challenges and opportunities to be addressed over the coming 25 years, with possible benchmarks to improve the employment rate of persons with disabilities.

John A. Powell
Gregory H. Williams Chair in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
Executive Director, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity
Ohio State University Moritz College of Law

A closer look at the evolution and interplay of race and class in America illustrates the limitations of a race-neutral politics of class. Progressives who call for universalist programs that focus on class in lieu of race offer no mechanism for instilling the social solidarity necessary to propel a progressive agenda forward. Targeted universalism is a strategy which recognizes the need for a platform that is universal and also responsive to the needs of the particular. Leadership can also make a difference. Both Harold Washington, in Chicago, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa built broad-based multiracial, multi-class coalitions and succeeded by keeping both race and class issues in focus. There has never been – at least in twentieth century America – a progressive political movement built solely on class. To inoculate such efforts from divisive race baiting, there must be discourse to inspire whites to link their fates to non-whites. This cannot be done by ignoring race, but by finding a way to speak to a multi-racial, multi-class audience with ideas like targeted universalism and with language that unashamedly embraces American values of justice.

Dinah L. Shelton
Patricia Roberts Harris Research Professor of Law
George Washington University Law School

International agreements have been based throughout history on equal and reciprocal rights between all states parties, based on the fundamental principle of sovereign equality. In recent years, however, the emergence of international environmental law has developed rules of responsibility and resource allocation based on recognizing relevant differences between states. One reflection of this is the rule of "equitable utilization" of shared freshwaters. Another, more general, principle that has emerged is "common but differentiated responsibilities." This paper will explore such concepts to examine the extent to which they are fairly treating the unequal unequally in order to achieve their underlying purposes.

Daniel A. Farber
Sho Sato Professor of Law
Director, Environmental Law Program
University of California, Berkeley School of Law

As Hurricane Katrina made clear, the impact of natural disasters does not fall evenly. The disparate racial impact of Katrina was obvious to anyone with a television. Less obvious were other disparate impacts, such as the heavy preponderance of the elderly among those killed. Internationally, similar patterns are observed. The discrimination dimension of disaster law is an important frontier for civil rights scholars.

This event is free and open to the public. Click here for the Symposium Schedule.

Register for CLE credits. The event code for the Symposium is 105986.

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