This writing seminar will examine the efforts of the American legal system to promote equal opportunity in a variety of domains: in particular, education, housing, and employment.
We will begin by asking the deceptively simple question, "What is equal opportunity"? We will examine some of the competing answers to this question that both legal scholars and political theorists have proposed and defended. Over the course of the semester, we will consider the implications of these competing answers for the shape of the law: we will examine how our legal system has applied different versions of the idea of equal opportunity to a series of practical policy problems, from hiring criteria to residential segregation, from school integration to affirmative action in higher education. Ultimately, our project is to understand both the power and the limits of law as a tool for promoting equal opportunity.
There will be very short reading responses (less than one page) due most weeks, in addition to the final paper, which may be on any topic related to equal opportunity, whether or not in the context of education, housing, or employment.