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American University Law Review


affirmative action, equal protection clause, equal protection doctrine, Richmond v. Croson, Supreme Court


Oh argues that when the United States Supreme Court decided Richmond v. Croson in 1989 and imposed strict scrutiny on state and local government affirmative action programs, it marked a critical moment and turning point in the evolution and development of public and legal discourse on race, racism, and race relations in America. Although many scholars have critically examined the Croson opinion, curiously, scholars have yet to recognize its full ramifications and implications. Aside from the technical doctrinal changes made to equal protection law, the Croson decision is also important because of the way the Court produced and mapped a new social reality of race relations in America. In the decision, the Court asserted that African Americans had achieved racial parity with Whites, and as such, that African Americans could no longer rely on a history of racial discrimination to justify the enactment of affirmative action programs… the Court in Croson radically re-mapped American race relations and concluded that because African Americans now had become a political majority in cities like Richmond, the Equal Protection Clause was now needed to protect the white racial minority from oppressive measures enacted by powerful black political majorities. This Article, however, will argue that the Court's mapping of race relations in America is profoundly inaccurate and obscures the continuing racial, socioeconomic, and political subordination of African Americans. It will critically examine the Croson decision and the remarkable facts of the case as openings to evaluate issues of narrative legal theory, the importance of examining space and geography in critiquing and constructing legal doctrine, the continuing socioeconomic racial segregation of African Americans in metropolitan areas throughout the United States, the relationship between political power and space/geography, and the future of equal protection doctrine.