Broadly speaking, the purpose of the course is to understand the nature and source of constitutional law, the functioning of the Supreme Court and the basis of and possible limits on its policymaking power. More specifically, the subject is the law of "equal protection" and particularly of race discrimination. This subject is pursued by detailed study of the Supreme Court's decisions on race and the schools--the story of the Court's move from prohibiting segregation to compelling integration, that is from prohibiting to requiring race discrimination. It is this move that made possible "affirmative action" (race preference) programs in higher education, employment and contracting that are a primary source of current racial controversy.
As important and interesting as the law of school segregation and race discrimination is in its own right--the race issue has always been and continues to be America's central and most intractable domestic problem--it is of even greater importance and interest because it is the Court's decisions in this area that have given the Court the greatly enhanced role and status in American society it now enjoys. It is Brown that produced the modern era of judicial activism. No area of law serves better to study the process and pitfalls of the making of constitutional law and public policy by judges.
The text is Graglia, Disaster by Decree: The Supreme Court Decisions on Race and the Schools (1976), and supplemental materials consisting mostly of lightly edited opinions in the major cases.