Day Two: Equal Protection’s Grand Promise and Betrayals: Reconstruction, Plessy to Bakke and Beyond: Is there a Way Forward?

February 19—Friday

9:00-10:00 am Morning Keynote Address

Former Attorney General Eric Holder The Weil Lecture on American Citizenship, 2021

Exploring his own view of the proper scope of the Equal Protection Clause and his own experience trying to protect the right of all Americans, including African Americans whose right to vote has been, and continues to be, denied suppressed, gerrymandered, and minimalized.

About The Weil Lecture: The Institute for the Arts and Humanities has hosted UNC’s Weil Lecture on American Citizenship since 2000. Brothers Henry and Solomon Weil established the lecture in 1915 to widen the discussion of the concept in the United States. Presidents Taft and Carter, Eleanor Roosevelt, Senators J. William Fulbright and Nancy Kassebaum and Professor Lester Thurow are among the many distinguished Weil lecturers. Other recent speakers have been members of Congress, diplomats, political commentators and renowned scholars.

Questions & Comments to Follow

10:15-11:30 am Panel Four

The Contemporary Legal Battlefield: Affirmative Action in Higher Education


Walter E. Dellinger, III,Douglas B. Maggs Professor Emeritus of Law, Duke University School of Law & former Solicitor General in the Clinton Administration  


Mario Barnes, Tonia Rembe Dean Professor of Law (among his pertinent articles are: “Why Regents of the University of California v. Bakke Makes the Case for Adopting  More  Radically Race-Conscious Admissions Policies,” 52 UC Davis L. Rev. 2265 (2019); (with Erwin Chemerinsky & Angela Onwuachi-Willig) “Judging Opportunity Lost: Assessing the Viability of Race-Based Affirmative Action after Fisher v. University of Texas,” 62 UCLA L. Rev. 272 (2015); and (with Erwin Chemerinsky) “The Once and Future Equal Protection Clause,” 43 Conn. L. Rev. 1059 (2011).

Rachel Moran, Distinguished Professor of Law at UC Irvine; former Dean, UCLA School of Law (among her pertinent articles are “Bakke’s Lasting Legacy: Redefining the Landscape of Equality and Liberty in Civil Rights Law,” 52 UC Davis L. Rev. 2569 (2018-19)).

Seth P. Waxman, Partner, Wilmer Hale, DC (former Solicitor General in the Clinton Administration; counsel for Harvard University in its current affirmative action litigation)

Questions & Comments to Follow

11:30 am-12:45 pm Panel Five

The Way[s] Forward: In The Universities


Janai Nelson, Associate Director/Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc., former Professor of Law, St. John’s University Law School


Bernadette Gray-Little, Former Chancellor, University of Kansas; former Provost, UNC-Chapel Hill.

Irving Joyner, Professor of Law, North Carolina Central University School of Law; pertinent articles include “North Carolina’s Racial Politics: Dred Scott Rules from the Grave,” 12 Duke J. Const. L. & Pub. Pol’y 141 (2017); “Challenging Voting Rights and Participation in State Courts,” 21 St. Mary’s L. Rev. (forthcoming).

Jamie Lewis Keith, Partner, EducationCounsel LLC and Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP (former Vice President, General Counsel and University Secretary, University of Florida).

James Ryan, President, University of Virginia (former Dean of the Harvard School of Education;  prior pertinent publications include a book about public school segregation in Hartford, Ct., Five Miles Away, A World Apart: One City, Two Schools, and the Story of Educational Opportunity in Modern America (Oxford Univ. Press 2010); and articles including: “The Supreme Court and Voluntary Integration,” 121 Harv. L. Rev. 131 (2007); and “The Supreme Court and Public Schools,” 86 Va. L. Rev. 1335 (2000)

Questions & Comments to Follow

1:15-3:15 pm Panel Six

The Way[s] Forward: The Constitutional Terrain


John Charles “Jack” Boger, Former Dean, University of North Carolina School of  Law 


john a. powell, Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity & Inclusion, University of California at Berkeley School of Law (among his many pertinent works are his article “The 125th Anniversary of Plessy v. Ferguson in an edited volume entitled The Legacy of ‘Separate but Equal’: Policy Implications for the 21st Century (john a. powell, ed., forthcoming 2021); “Fisher v. Texas: The Limits of Exhaustion and the Future of Race-Conscious University Admissions, 47 U. Mich. J. L. Reform (2014)

Kimberly J. Robinson, Elizabeth D. and Richard A. Merrill Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law – latest work is A Federal Right to Education: Fundamental Questions for Our Democracy (2019, NYU Press).

Gerald Torres, Professor of Environmental Justice at the Yale School of the Environment (among his pertinent works are, The Miners’ Canary: Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy (co-authored with Lani Guinier) (2002) and articles such as “The Education of an Admissions Office,” 65 Vand. L. Rev. En Banc 211 (2012) (an essay on the Fisher case).

Mark L. Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law Emeritus, Harvard Law School; pertinent publications are many, including recently, Taking Back the Constitution: Activist Judges and the Next Age of American Law (Yale Press, forthcoming 2020); “The Inadequacy of Judicial Enforcement of Constitutional Rights Provisions to Rectify Economic Inequality, and the Inevitability of the Attempt,” in Judicial Review: Process, Power and Problems (Salman Khurshid et al., eds., 2020); and “Implementing, Transforming, and Abandoning Brown, in Brown at 50: The Unfinished Legacy: A Collection of Essays (Deborah Rhode & Charles Ogletree, eds., 2004).

Questions & Comments to Follow