San Diego Law Review

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When Lynne Lasry, President of the Law Alumni Board, suggested we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the University of San Diego School of Law with a public program on Brown v. Board of Education, which was decided on May 17, 1954, just a month after the law school welcomed its first class in April 1954, I enthusiastically endorsed the idea. However, I have to admit that I did not foresee just how fitting commemorating these two milestones would become and what a significant opportunity it would be to both celebrate what our law school has achieved in its relatively short history and to highlight the important work that great law schools, like USD, are doing and need to continue to do in educating leaders who are committed to advancing justice, equal access and civil liberties in our society.

At the law school’s anniversary celebration held on April 7, 2015, the focal event was a panel discussion of Brown v. Board of Education featuring four distinguished members of the USD School of Law faculty and moderated by Vice Dean Mary Jo Wiggins, whose introduction to this Special Issue of the San Diego Law Review follows. The topic was the lasting impact of the Brown on various areas of the law. The article jointly authored by Professor Roy Brooks and law student, Kelly Smith, Juridical Subordination, includes the remarks Professor Brooks made that evening on the importance of Brown to the idea of racial advancement through the law and civil rights movements. The remarks made by Professor Donald Dripps at that event took a narrower and more critical view of the legacy of the Brown decision by looking at the current state of the criminal justice system and the disproportionately high incarceration rate among young African-American men. In his article, Race and Crime Sixty Years after Brown v. Board of Education, Professor Dripps elegantly describes the situation and articulates constructive steps that the Supreme Court could take, consistent with the reasoning in the Brown decision to reform the criminal justice system and to move American society closer to the ideal of equal justice under the law. In addition to the presentations by Professors Brooks and Dripps at that event, Professor Orly Lobel discussed the impact of Brown on employment and labor law and Professor Laurie Claus discussed the case’s impact on constitutional law. These faculty presentations and the ensuing discussion that evening reflected the breadth of the impact that Brown v. Board of Education has had on American society. As Lee Bollinger has written: “The decision was not just about schools; it was about the nation living up to its own professed ideas. By addressing, and dealing with, racial injustice, the Supreme Court spoke to every sector of society—and every sector responded.”