Civil Rights Statutes

B580 is taught by Fuentes-Rohwer

This course examines the nature and scope of various federal civil rights laws, including the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. We will make sense of these iconic statutes as both historical artifacts as well as legal tools. That is, we will situate these laws within their historical milieus, consider their purposes, and evaluate their effectiveness.

As we explore these statutes, two overarching inquiries will anchor our discussion.

First, what role do the federal courts and the political branches play in defining the meaning and extent of these rights? In thinking about this question, it is important to note that these statutes came into being during moments of Reconstruction, times when the country was trying to figure out what it meant to be free. This observation leads to a second question: what role have social movements played in this narrative? This is an important if ironic question. This course will help you think about some very interesting answers.

This is a course that will interest students of American history, constitutional law, American political development, statutory interpretation, Democracy and voting rights, and/or race. This is also a writing course. This means that we will spend a great deal of time writing, both in class and outside. We will do so while engaging some of the pressing issues of our day.