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The Law, the Universe, and Everything
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  • 02/29/12--17:13: Teaching Sexual Assault
  • This week, I began teaching the unit on sexual assault to my Criminal Law class. I – untenured, female, and in my second year of teaching – walked into my classroom and wrote “carnal knowledge of a woman forcibly and against her will” on the chalkboard, thus beginning a two week exploration of the law of rape. Am I brave? Am I foolish? Or am I simply doing what I am supposed to do as a Criminal Law professor?

    A couple of senior professors from other law schools had advised me not to cover sexual assault as part of my Criminal Law class at all. It was too risky, I was told. And this is generally true. All classes have an element of risk and uncertainty: [...]


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    It’s official: the Supreme Court will hear Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin this term. The Court will determine the constitutionality of the university’s use of race in its undergraduate admissions decisions. Because Justice Kagan has recused herself, supporters of affirmative action must hope (pray!) for a 4-4 split – with Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kennedy on one side and Justices Alito, Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas on the other.

    But, what’s the likelihood that Justice Kennedy will swing to the left? After all, he dissented in Grutter. Part of his discontent in 2003 concerned Michigan Law’s notion of a “critical mass.” Michigan Law argued, and the majority accepted, that a “critical mass” of minority students would promote “cross-racial understanding,” undermine racial stereotypes, prepare students [...]


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  • 03/13/12--14:28: Anti-Racism in a Bottle
  • [I should note that this post builds on Amanda Pustilnik's post that's right below....]

    A recent study published in the journal Psychopharmacology reports that a beta-blocker, usually prescribed as a treatment for heart disease and anxiety, had the effect of reducing implicit racial biases in white volunteers who took the drug. In the study, one group of volunteers was given the beta-blocker while another group was given a placebo. The participants were then asked to complete a racial Implicit Association Test, which purports to measure subconscious racial bias by asking test takers to associate positive and negative words with images of black and white people. The participants who had been given the beta-blocker earned better scores on the test; it took them less time than the [...]


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  • 03/28/12--16:52: Extracurricular Learnin’
  • This week at my law school, I presented a chapter of my book to students as part of a brown bag lunch series in which various members of the faculty lecture on disparate topics of interest. When I was invited to participate in the series at the beginning of the semester, I happily agreed to do so – in part because, as a junior professor, I happily agree to everything. (Dean: “It would be really helpful if you sat on three more committees, taught two more classes, and did some light janitorial work a couple of days out of the week. Can you do it?” Me: “Absolutely!”) However, I also agreed to do the lecture because I felt no pressure. First, I knew that it [...]


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  • 02/29/12--17:13: Teaching Sexual Assault
  • This week, I began teaching the unit on sexual assault to my Criminal Law class. I – untenured, female, and in my second year of teaching – walked into my classroom and wrote “carnal knowledge of a woman forcibly and against her will” on the chalkboard, thus beginning a two week exploration of the law of rape. Am I brave? Am I foolish? Or am I simply doing what I am supposed to do as a Criminal Law professor?

    A couple of senior professors from other law schools had advised me not to cover sexual assault as part of my...


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    It’s official: the Supreme Court will hear Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin this term. The Court will determine the constitutionality of the university’s use of race in its undergraduate admissions decisions. Because Justice Kagan has recused herself, supporters of affirmative action must hope (pray!) for a 4-4 split – with Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kennedy on one side and Justices Alito, Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas on the other.

    But, what’s the likelihood that Justice Kennedy will swing to the left? After all, he dissented in Grutter. Part of his discontent in 2003 concerned Michigan Law’s notion of...


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  • 03/13/12--14:28: Anti-Racism in a Bottle
  • [I should note that this post builds on Amanda Pustilnik’s post that’s right below….]

    A recent study published in the journal Psychopharmacology reports that a beta-blocker, usually prescribed as a treatment for heart disease and anxiety, had the effect of reducing implicit racial biases in white volunteers who took the drug. In the study, one group of volunteers was given the beta-blocker while another group was given a placebo. The participants were then asked to complete a racial Implicit Association Test, which purports to measure subconscious racial bias by asking test takers to associate positive and negative words with images...


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  • 03/28/12--16:52: Extracurricular Learnin’
  • This week at my law school, I presented a chapter of my book to students as part of a brown bag lunch series in which various members of the faculty lecture on disparate topics of interest. When I was invited to participate in the series at the beginning of the semester, I happily agreed to do so – in part because, as a junior professor, I happily agree to everything. (Dean: “It would be really helpful if you sat on three more committees, taught two more classes, and did some light janitorial work a couple of days out of the...


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  • 04/06/17--18:32: Abnormalizing Abortion
  • I come to the issue of abortion and abortion restrictions from a different angle and with a different focus than those used by Carol Sanger in her wonderful new book, About Abortion: Terminating Pregnancy in Twenty-First Century America. In my scholarship, I’ve been interested in how the regulation of abortion has been a mechanism by which the state can regulate race and class. Specifically, I’ve been interested in the role that race and class have played in women’s ability to access abortion (as well as contraception and sterilization). I’ve also been interested in the role that race and class have played...