Ariela Gross (UCLA School of Law) "Erasing Slavery: Right-Wing Backlash And The Memory of a Timeless Colorblind Constitution". Friday March 22 2024, 12h15-13h45, Université Paris Cité.

Brown bag lunch. Friday March 22 2024, 12h15-13h45.
Université Paris Cité. Salle 118, bâtiment Olympe de Gouges. 8 place Paul Ricoeur Paris 75013.
Organized by Paul Schor, LARCA UMR 8225, Axe Histoire du politique.
Discussant Esther Cyna, (UVSQ/CHCSC).

Ariela Gross will present chapter 4 of her next book.
This presentation will draw from a book in progress telling the story of U.S. politicians’ and judges’ efforts to erase slavery from the history of the Constitution, from the moment of emancipation to the present. By putting slavery in the deep past, and portraying freedom as a gift from white people to Black people, opponents of Black rights have promoted a nationwide retreat from the promise of citizenship and equality in the Reconstruction Amendments.

In this presentation, I will discuss the recent Students for Fair Admissions case, in which the Court reimagined the history of the U.S. Constitution through the lens of a timeless principle of colorblindness. Both the lawyers for the petitioners and Justice Thomas’s concurrence put forward a new “14th Amendment originalism” and made the very odd suggestion that the status categories “slave” or “freedman” might have been race-neutral categories. In doing so, they plugged into a broader conservative movement strategy of decoupling slavery from race. By severing slavery from race, they can minimize white Americans’ responsibility for the legacies of slavery and deny the continuing harms of racial injustice. Some aspects of this strategy are very old and go back to pro-slavery defenses from the nineteenth century; but today, it is linked to a revisioning of our history through the lens of a timeless colorblindness. I will discuss the way right-wing movement figures employ this strategy, and then the way it emerged in the SFFA case to bolster the colorblind interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

Source: Paul Schor <paul.schor>