Publication Title

Vanderbilt Law Review



Document Type



Race and Place is a narrative article, both fictional and true, dedicated to exploring the dual realities of a geographic and transcendent community in the context of the Supreme Court's recent decisions in Shaw v. Reno and Miller v. Johnson. The Court has allowed and affirmed constitutional challenges to districts drawn to empower African-Americans "with nothing in common but the color of their skin." The Article draws upon history, literature, political science, and law to critique the Court's assumptions concerning the challenged districts and to demonstrate the existence of African-American communities of interest which are both geographically bounded by and transcendent of the lines states may choose to draw.

The Article employs the device of recounting a fictional meeting of civil rights lawyers, community leaders, and recently elected judges and representatives in a rural southern town. The characters in the narrative react to and debate the effects of the Supreme Court's decisions on existing integrated empowerment districts containing majority African-American populations. Race and Place also considers the viability of alternative remedies, such as cumulative voting, as means of both avoiding the districting dilemma and meeting the needs of the transcendent community.

[Note: This article received the 1995-96 Scholarly Paper Prize, awarded by the Association of American Law Schools.]



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