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Cornell Law ReviewVolume 80Issue 5 July 1995 Article 2

Color-Coded StandingGirardeau A. Spann

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Recommended CitationGirardeau A. Spann, Color-Coded Standing , 80 Cornell L. Rev. 1422 (1995)Available at:


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Girardeau A. Spannt

Introduction ................................................... 1422I. The Law of Standing ................................... 1426

A. The Law of Northeastern Florida ...................... 1427B. The Facts of Northeastern Florida ..................... 1431

II. Doctrinal Problems ..................................... 1437A. The Injury Is Not Proximate ........................ 1437B. The Injury Is Not Imminent........................ 1440C. The Injury Is Not Nonprogrammatic ................ 1444D. The Injury Is Not Redressable ...................... 1446

III. Discrimination Problems ................................ 1452A. Standing and Disparate Impact ..................... 1454

1. Minority Programmatic Challenges ................. 14552. Majority Programmatic Challenges ................. 14593. Racially Disparate Impact ......................... 14614. Exacerbating Rationales ........................... 1466

B. Standing and Intentional Discrimination ............ 14721. Contemporary Civil Rights Decisions ................ 1473

a. Affirmative Action .......................... 1473b. Title VII Burden of Proof ................... 1477c. Hate Speech ................................ 1480d. The 1988 Term ............................. 1484

2. Traditional Discrimination ........................ 1487a. Dred Scott .................................. 1488b. Plessy ....................................... 1490c. Brown ...................................... 1493

Conclusion .................................................... 1495


Remarkably, the Supreme Court has held that whites who wish tochallenge the constitutionality of affirmative action plans have stand-ing to do so. In Northeastern Florida Chapter of the Associated General Con-tractors v. City ofJacksonville,' the Supreme Court upheld the standing

t Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center. I would like to thank DavidCole, Lisa Heinzerling, Patricia King, Tom Krattenmaker, Elizabeth Patterson, and MikeSeidman for their help in developing the ideas expressed in this Article. Research for thisArticle was supported by a grant from the Georgetown University Law Center.

1 113 S. Ct. 2297 (1993). Cf Shaw v. Reno, 113 S. Ct. 2816 (1993) (permitting whitechallenge to affirmative action voter apportionment scheme without ever discussing issue


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of non-minority construction contractors to challenge a minority set-aside program under the Equal Protection Clause of the United StatesConstitution. What is remarkable is not that the result reached in thecase was wrong, but that the Court was able to reach that result givenits most recent standing precedents. In previous Terms, the SupremeCourt had taken great pains to infuse prohibitively high standing re-quirements into the law of justiciability so that it could defer to thepolitical process for the resolution of contentious social issues. InNortheastern Florida, however, the Court seemed to sidestep thoseprecedents precisely so that it could supplant political resolution ofthe contentious social issue of affirmative action.

It is often difficult to explain why a court decides, a case the waythat it does. Legal realism has left us with a legacy of skepticism con-cerning the relevance of doctrine in accounting for case outcomes,and postmodern extensions of legal realism to social science theorieshave generated similar disaffection with most nondoctrinal, social sci-ence accounts. But the assertion that Supreme Court cases are polit-ical or result-oriented offers little satisfaction because it does notexplain how judges determine what their political or result-orientedpreferences require of them in particular cases.

In such an analytical environment, one can only offer observa-tions about decisions and hope that they will resonate with the readerswho evaluate them. The observation that I wish to offer is that theSupreme Court's decision in Northeastern Florida is racially suspicious.It is one of a series of racially suspicious decisions that the SupremeCourt has issued concerning the issue of standing. In fact, close ex-amination suggests that the Supreme Court's standing decisions em-body the very sort of racial discrimination that we rely on the Court toprevent.

I have argued in the past that, contrary to popular understand-ing, the institutional function of the Supreme Court in American cul-ture has consistently been to facilitate the subordination of racial-

of standing). In order to facilitate the process of finding references, the secondary sourcesthat are cited most frequently in this Article are collected alphabetically in this foomote:Derrick Bell, Brown and the Interest-Convergne Dilemma; in SHADES OF BROWN: NErw PER-SPECTIVES ON SCHOOL DESEGREGATION 91 (Derrick Bell ed., 1980); STEPHEN G. BaRy&R &RIcHARD B. STEWART, ADMINISTRATIVE LAW AND REGULATORY POLICY (3d ed. 1992); DavidCole, Neutral Standards and Racist Speech, 2 RECONSTRUCTION 65 (1992); JOHN H. ELY, DE-MOCRACY AND DISTRUST. A THEORY OFJUDICLAL REVIEW (1980); WILLIAM N. ESRRIDGE, JR. &PHILIP P. FRicREY, CASES AND MATERIALS ON LEGISLATION: STATUTES AND THE CREATION OF

PUBLIC POLICY (1988); Louis M. Seidman, Brown and Miranda, 80 CAl- L. REv. 673 (1992);Girardeau A. Spann, ExpositoiyJutic4 131 U. PA. L. REv. 585 (1983) [hereinafter Spann,Expositoiy Justice]; GIRARDEAU A. SPANN, RACE AGAINST THE COURT. THE SUPREME COURT



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minority interests to white majority interests.2 The array of standingdecisions issued by the Court since the New Deal illustrates this veiledmajoritarian phenomenon. In fact, the racially correlated outcomesof the cases suggest that if the Supreme Court's racial discriminationstandards were applicable to the Court's treatment of standing, theSupreme Court's standing decisions would violate its own nondiscrim-ination norms.

When minority plaintiffs file programmatic challenges to wide-spread patterns of racial discrimination, the Court typically deniesstanding because the plaintiffs cannot demonstrate a sufficient likeli-hood of particularized gain resulting from a favorable judgment.Such a showing is required to establish ajusticiable "case" or "contro-versy."3 However, when nonminority plaintiffs file similar program-matic challenges to affirmative action programs, the Court typicallygrants standing, even though the plaintiffs are equally unable todemonstrate a high likelihood of particularized gain.

The distinctions that the Court offers to justify this racially dispa-rate treatment are too tenuous to survive the level of scrutiny that theCourt applies to nongovernmental actors under Title VII of the CivilRights Act of 1964.4 Moreover, when the racially correlated characterof the Court's standing decisions is combined with evidence about theSupreme Court's racial attitudes, which can be gleaned from othercivil rights decisions, the Supreme Court seems to be engaged in "in-tentional" discrimination sufficient to violate the Equal ProtectionClause.5 Statutory and constitutional antidiscrimination laws are,however, effectively inapplicable to the Supreme Court.6 This immu-

2 See SPAN, RACE ACAINST THE COURT, supra note 1, at 19-26, 94-99, 104-60; Girar-deau A. Spann, Pure Politics, 88 MICH. L. REv. 1971, 1982-90, 2000-08, 2012-18 (1990).

3 See U.S. CONST. art. III, § 2 (imposing "case" or "controversy" restriction on federalcourt jurisdiction).

4 Civil Rights Act of 1964, Pub. L No. 88-352, 78 Stat. 241, 243 (1964) (codified asamended at 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e-17 (1988 & Supp. IV 1992)).

5 U.S. CONST. amend. XIV, § 1.6 Title VII is inapplicable by its terms. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(b) (1988) (excluding

United States from definition of "employer" covered by the Act). Although the Equal Pro-tection Clause technically applies to all government actions, there is no governmental bodythat possesses the formal authority to enforce constitutional guarantees against the Court.Even if there were, the Court has proclaimed itself to be the final expositor of constitu-tional meaning. See Cooper v. Aaron, 358 U.S. 1, 18 (1958) (recognizing "the basic princi-ple that the federal judiciary is supreme in the exposition of the law of the Constitution,"and quoting Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137, 177 (1808), for proposition that"[iut is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the lawis"); cf Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, 14 U.S. (1 Wheat.) 304, 337-52 (1816) (rejecting argu-ment that state courts are final expositors of constitutional meaning within spheres of statesovereignty). The Court has, thereby, effectively insulated itself from constitutional ac-countability. Ironically, this insulation enables the Court to implement the very types ofdiscriminatory preferences that the Court would be obliged to invalidate if expressed byanother branch of government.

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nity makes the Court a particularly expedient institution for preserv-ing majority control over minority interests.

The Supreme Court is putatively charged with protecting therights of minorities from invasion by tyrannical majorities.7 Constitu-tional history, however, reveals that the actual role played by theSupreme Court has been considerably different From Dred Scot toPlessy9 to Brown,10 the primary concern of the Court in race cases hasbeen the protection of favored majority interests. The Court has eveninvalidated majoritarian efforts to protect minority rights when thoseefforts have failed to comport with the Court's conception of majorityself-interest"n The standing decision in Northeastern Florida is, there-fore, best understood as a recent addition to a long line of SupremeCourt decisions that subordinate the welfare of racial minorities to theoverriding interests of the majority.

Part I of this Article describes the contemporary law of standing,highlighting its antagonism toward programmatic challenges to gov-ernmental action, and describes the Court's decision in NortheasternF/orida. Part II then demonstrates how difficult it is to square the out-come in Northeastern Florida with the Court's other recent standing de-cisions. Part III suggests that Northeastern Florida is symptomatic of amore general trend in Supreme Court standing jurisprudence, pursu-ant to which case outcomes tend to correlate with the plaintiffs' racialinterests in a way that would violate both Title VII and the Equal Pro-tection Clause if these provisions applied to Supreme Court decisions.The Article concludes that no matter how strong a showing can bemade of Supreme Court racial discrimination, such discrimination is,curiously, inconsequential.

7 SeeMarburyv. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137, 162-68 (1803) (function ofjudiciaryis to protect legal rights); see also THE FEDERAUsr No. 78 (Alexander Hamilton) (federaljudiciary obligated to invalidate acts of political branches that violate constitutional rights).

8 Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393 (1856) (holding blacks not citizenswithin meaning of United States Constitution).

9 Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896) (upholding separate-but-equal interpreta-tion of Equal Protection Clause).

10 Brown v. Board of Educ. (Brown 1), 347 U.S. 483 (1954) (rejecting Pe.Y's separate-but-equal interpretation of Equal Protection Clause of United States Constitution); see alsoBrown v. Board of Educ. (Brown 17), 349 U.S. 294, 301 (1955) (ordering desegregation ofpublic schools "with all deliberate speed").

I See, e.g., City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co., 488 U.S. 469 (1989) (applying strictscrutiny to affirmative action plan adopted by city council of Richmond, Virginia).

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The law of standing is in a state of notorious disarray.' 2 The doc-trine was designed to implement the Article III case-or-controversy re-striction on federal jurisdiction by limiting the authority of thejudiciary to that which was necessary for the redress ofjusticiable inju-ries. This limitation, in turn, permitted the politically-unaccountablejudiciary to minimize its interference with the actions of the politi-cally-sensitive, coordinate branches of government. However, a coher-ent concept of injury has proved to be elusive. As a result, standingrules have not effectively distinguished between proper and improperexercises ofjudicial authority. Indeed, they have given the Court littleguidance and nearly unlimited discretion in making judicial interven-tion determinations.' 3

One of the Supreme Court's most recent statements of the law ofstanding was articulated in Northeastern Florida Chapter of the AssociatedGeneral Contractors v. City ofJacksonville.14 In Northeastern /orida, a con-struction trade association challenged the constitutionality of a munic-ipal law that set aside ten percent of the municipality's constructionfunds for minority contractors. 15 The case presented the Court withwhat has become a paradigmatic standing problem: an institutional

12 See, e.g., Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of

Church and State, Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 475 (1982) ("We need not mince words when we saythat the concept of 'Art. I standing' has not been defined with complete consistency in allof the various cases decided by this Court which have discussed it."); Association of DataProcessing Serv. Orgs. v. Camp, 397 U.S. 150, 151 (1970) ("Generalizations about standingto sue are largely worthless as such."); 3 KENNETH C. DAvis, ADMINISTRATrvE LAW TREATISE§ 22.18 (Supp. 1965) ("[T]he Supreme Court's law of standing remains cluttered, con-fused, and contradictory."); Abram Chayes, The Role of the Judge in Public Law Litigation, 89HARv. L. REv. 1281, 1291 (1976) ("[T]he Supreme Court is struggling manfully, but withquestionable success, to establish a formula for delimiting who may sue that stops short of'anybody who might be significantly affected by the situation he seeks to litigate.'"); MarkV. Tushnet, The New Law of Standing: A Plea for Abandonmen 62 CORNELL L. REv. 663(1977) ("[Tlhe law of standing lacks a rational conceptual framework. It is little morethan a set of disjointed rules dealing with a common subject."); Mark V. Tushnet, TheSociology of Article L7 A Response to Professor Brilmayer, 93 HARv. L. REv. 1698, 1705 (1980)("The ease of manipulation [of standing criteria] is especially enhanced because the doc-trine is so amorphous and confused."); Michael A. Wolff, Standing to Sue: CapriciousApplica-tion of Direct Injury Standard, 20 ST. Louis U. L.J. 663 (1976) ("The confusing andinconsistent nature of these decisions has been the subject of judicial and scholarly com-ment."); see generally ERWIN CHEMERINSK', FEDERALJURISDICTION § 2.3 (2d ed. 1994) (dis-cussing standing).

13 Some commentators have argued that the existence of such Supreme Court discre-tion is a good thing because it permits the Court to avoid improper involvement in polit-ical decisionmaking. See, e.g., ALEXANDER M. BiCxEL, THE LAsr DANGEROus BRANCH: THESUPRE s COURT AT THE BAR OF PoLrTcs 111-98 (1962) (terming doctrines such as standing.passive virtues").

14 113 S. Ct. 2297 (1993).

15 Id. at 2299-2301.

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plaintiff, with a political or ideological interest in the resolution of acontroversial social issue, sought the Court's assistance in the advance-ment of that interest.

The Northeastern Florida Court first recited a series of stringent re-quirements for pleading, causation, and redressability that seemdesigned to minimize private challenges to government programs byideological plaintiffs who do not suffer traditional injuries. But theCourt then applied these requirements to the facts in a way thatstrained to permit the very type of programmatic challenge that thestringent requirements seem to preclude. As a result, the decision notonly contributes confusion to the law of standing, but also raises suspi-cions about the Supreme Court's motivation.

A. The Law of Northeastern Florida

The standing portion of Justice Thomas's majority opinion inNortheastern Florida begins with the assertion that "[t]he doctrine ofstanding is 'an essential and unchanging part of the case-or-contro-versy requirement of Article III,' which itself 'defines with respect tothe Judicial Branch the idea of separation of powers on which theFederal Government is founded.'' 16 This opening reflects the cus-tomary manner in which federal judges begin their discussions ofstanding;' 7 it emphasizes that it would be undemocratic and unconsti-tutional for politically unaccountable judges to substitute their policypreferences for those of politically accountable legislative and execu-tive officials.' 8 The distinction between ajusticiable "case" or "contro-versy" and a nonjusticiable request for judicial intervention turns onthe presence of an Article III injury that will be redressed by afavorable decision on the merits. Accordingly, in Northeastern Florida,Justice Thomas summarized the law of standing in the followingmanner:

It has been established by a long line of cases that a party seeking toinvoke a federal court's jurisdiction must demonstrate three things:(1) "injury in fact," by which we mean an invasion of a legally pro-

16 Id. at 2301 (quoting respectively Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 112 S. Ct. 2180,2136 (1992), and Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 750 (1984)).

17 See, e.g., Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for the Separation ofChurch and State, 454 U.S. 464, 471-76 (1982); Duke Power Co. v. Carolina Envtl. StudyGroup, Inc., 438 U.S. 59, 72 (1978); Simon v. Eastern Ky. Welfare Rights Org., 426 U.S. 26,40-45 .(1976); Schlesinger v. Reservists Comm. to Stop the War, 418 U.S. 208, 215-16(1974); United States v. Richardson, 418 U.S. 166, 171-72 (1974); Sierra Club v. Morton,405 U.S. 727, 731-34 (1972); Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 94-101 (1968).

18 See Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 559-62 (1992); Massachusetts v.Mellon, 262 U.S. 447, 488-89 (1928). This account of the constitutional dimension ofstanding is developed more fully in Spann, Expository Justice, supra note 1 (arguing thatjusticiability rules are best understood as facilitating expository, rather than dispute-resolu-tion, function of federal courts).

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tected interest that is "(a) concrete and particularized, and (b) ac-tual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical" [citing Lujan];(2) a causal relationship between the injury and the challenged con-duct, by which we mean that the injury "fairly can be traced to thechallenged action of the defendant," and has not resulted "from theindependent action of some third party not before the court" [cit-ing Simon]; and (3) a likelihood that the injury will be redressed bya favorable decision, by which we mean that the "prospect of ob-taining relief from the injury as a result of a favorable ruling" is not"too speculative" [citing Allen]. These elements are the "irreducibleminimum" required by the Constitution.' 9

Justice Thomas thus enumerated three requirements for standing: in-jury, causation, and redressability.

Since the 1970 companion cases of Association of Data ProcessingService Organizations v. Camp2 ° and Barlow v. Collins,2 ' the injury re-quirement for standing has meant "injury in fact." "Injury in fact" en-compasses real-world injuries, as opposed to the invasion of a formallegal interest, which had previously been required for standing.22 InData Processing the Court held that the increased competition con-fronting data processing firms from expanding national banks was aneconomic injury sufficient for standing.23 Likewise in Barlow v. Col-linS,2 4 the Court held that the increased vulnerability of tenant farm-ers to economic pressure exerted by their landlords constituted anadequate injury for standing.2 5

19 Northeastern Florida, 113 S. Ct. at 2301-02 (citations omitted).20 397 U.S. 150, 151 (1970).

21 397 U.S. 159, 163 (1970).

22 The first three lines of the quoted portion ofJustice Thomas's opinion in Northeast-

ern Florida seem to equate the injury-in-fact and legal-interest tests even though they areanalytically very different. See Spann, Expositoy Justice, supra note 1, at 620-21. CompareNortheastern Florida, 113 S. Ct. at 2301-02 (equating the two tests) with Data Processing, 397U.S. at 152-53 (emphasizing the difference between the two tests). This confusion repli-cates an earlier confusion introduced by Justice Scalia in Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife,504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992), which Justice Thomas quoted. See Northeastern Florida, 113 S. 2301-02. (In order to comply with citation conventions, Lujan v. National Wildlife Federa-tion has been referred to as "National W'idlife Federation" and Lujan v. Defenders of Widdlife hasbeen referred to as "Lujan.") The point is esoteric enough thatJustice Thomas, who pos-sesses no particular expertise in administrative law or the law of standing, could under-standably have failed to appreciate it. What is more surprising is that in conflating the"injury in fact" test with the "legal interest" test, Justice Thomas was quoting the Lujanopinion ofJustice Scalia. See id. Justice Scalia, as a former law professor and expert inadministrative law, is generally regarded as having considerable competence in such mat-ters. For a suggestion that this equation is not an error but an effort to supplant the injury-in-fact test with a restored legal-interest test, see RONALD CASS E AL., ADMINISTRATIVE lAW.CASES AND MATERLAtS 316 (2d ed. 1994).

23 See Data Processing; 397 U.S. at 152-53.

24 397 U.S. 159 (1970).

25 See id. at 160-63.

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Noneconomic harms such as the harm to aesthetic, conserva-tional, recreational, and even spiritual values also satisfy the Court'scontemporary conceptions of an Article III injury.2 6 In United States v.SCRAP,27 the Supreme Court found that law students working on aschool project suffered a sufficient injury to challenge an InterstateCommerce Commission rate increase by virtue of their exposure tothe environmental harms that could result from the rate increase'sdisincentive effect on recycling.28 Flast v. Cohen29 similarly recognizedthe interest of an individual federal taxpayer in preventing the expen-diture of federal funds in violation of the Free Exercise and Establish-ment Clauses of the First Amendment to be sufficient for standing.30

Other cases, however, have denied standing for lack of an adequateinjury under seemingly similar facts, 31 exacerbating the substantial un-certainty in the law of standing.3 2

The causation and redressability requirements that JusticeThomas enumerated for standing are best understood as dual aspectsof a single concern. If an injury is proximately caused by the allegedlyunlawful action being challenged, then a judicial remedy will redressthat injury, thereby ensuring that the courts are not impermissibly in-terfering with the political process by issuing advisory dicta.33 Since1990, the Court has applied the causation and redressability require-ments with extreme stringency. This trend is exemplified by two re-cent standing opinions written by Justice Scalia.

First, in Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation,34 the Court deniedstanding to an environmental plaintiff challenging a decision of theReagan and Bush Administrations to open federal lands to increasedmining, oil, and natural gas exploitation. The plaintiff had submittedaffidavits averring recreational use of the lands in question, whichwould have seemingly been sufficient for standing under SCRAP. YetJustice Scalia found the affidavits insufficient because they did notidentify with particularity which tracts were used by which afflants and

26 See Data Processing, 397 U.S. at 154.27 412 U.S. 669 (1973).28 See id. at 672-76.29 392 U.S. 83 (1968).30 See id. at 85-88.31 See, e.g., Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555 (1992) (environmentalists lack

standing to enforce Endangered Species Act); Lujan v. National Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S.871 (1990) (environmentalists lack standing to challenge government decision to permitincreased mining of federal lands); Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United forSeparation of Church and State, 454 U.S. 464 (1982) (taxpayers lack standing to challengegift of government property to religious school as violation of Establishment Clause of FirstAmendment).

32 See supra note 12 and accompanying text (documenting confusion in law ofstanding).

33 See Spann, ExpositoryJustice supra note 1, at 589-92, 636-44.34 497 U.S. 871 (1990).

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did not correlate those tracts with particular contemplated leases.35

As a result, the injury about which the plaintiff complained wasdeemed speculative, not proximately connected to particular projects,and therefore not sufficiently imminent for judicial redress.3 6 The de-manding pleading and proof requirements that the Court thus im-posed made it difficult for nontraditional plaintiffs to use a single testcase to challenge a broad-based governmental program, such as theRepublican program to open federal lands to increased exploitation.Only if a particular aspect of a program inflicted a traditionally recog-nized injury would that aspect of the program be subject to review.37

Justice Scalia viewed programmatic challenges as inherently political,rather than judicial, in nature.38

Second, in Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 39 Justice Scalia fortifiedthe Court's new pleading and proof requirements by giving them con-stitutional grounding. His opinion denied standing to an environ-mental group that sought foreign enforcement of the EndangeredSpecies Act because the plaintiff's members had not specified theirfuture plans to view endangered species in foreign countries with suf-ficient particularity, as required under National Wildlife Federation.40

Moreover, the plaintiff's desired enforcement of the Act might notresult in any enhanced protection of endangered species because thefinancial incentive scheme of the Endangered Species Act ultimately

35 Id. at 875-89. The plaintiff submitted two affidavits in support of its opposition tothe government's motion to dismiss for lack of standing. The district court denied thismotion, and the court of appeals upheld the denial. On remand, the district court held ahearing on the government's motion for summary judgment based upon the plaintiff'slack of standing. After this hearing, the plaintiff submitted four more specific supplemen-tal affidavits, but the district court rejected them as untimely. See id. at 879-82; cf. id. at 904n.6 (Blackmun, J., dissenting) (stating that five additional affidavits were submitted). Thecourt of appeals then reversed the district court, finding that the additional affidavits wereadmissible and that the plaintiff had established a genuine issue of material fact concern-ing whether its members used affected tracts of land and thus survived the government'smotion for summaryjudgment. See id. at 879-82. Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled thatthe district court's refusal to accept the additional affidavits was proper and that the affida-vits were nevertheless insufficient to survive the government's motion for summary judg-ment. See id at 890-98.

36 See id. at 882-89.37 See id. at 890-94. Justice Scalia asserted that a general policy decision was not "final

agency action" ripe for review under the Administrative Procedure Act until that generalpolicy decision was reduced to operative implementation decisions. Id.

38 Id. at 891 (arguing that requests for programmatic changes should be addressed toCongress rather than to the courts).

39 504 U.S. 555 (1992).40 See id. at 568-64. One affiant had traveled to Egypt in 1986 to observe the tradi-

tional habitat of the Nile crocodile, which she averred would suffer harm by Americanoversight of the rehabilitation of the Aswan High Dam on the Nile. The other affiant hadtraveled to Sri Lanka in 1981 to observe the Asian elephant and the leopard, which sheaverred were threatened by the Mahaweli Project that was being funded by the UnitedStates Agency for International Development. Both affiants had general, but not specific,plans to take similar trips in the future. See id. at 564-65 n.2.

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depended upon the actions of third party foreign governments thatwere not before the Court. Accordingly, the alleged failure to enforcethe Endangered Species Act did not produce an injury that was suffi-ciently redressable to establish standing.41

Unlike the statutes involved in National Wildlife Federation, the En-dangered Species Act at issue in Lujan had a "citizen suit" provisionthat granted standing to any citizen to enforce its provisions. 42

AlthoughJustice Scalia recognized that the Court had in the past heldthat Congress possessed the power to create statutory injuries suffi-cient for Article III standing,43 in Lujan, he stated that Congress couldnot confer standing on a plaintiff who did not suffer a traditional Arti-cle III injury independent of the statutorily created right.44 Again,Justice Scalia appears to have been trying to keep the courts out ofpolitical disputes, even when Congress had by statute invited them toparticipate in the resolution of such disputes.45

At the time the Court decided Northeastern Florida, the law ofstanding had become very strict. A plaintiff could no longer establishstanding simply by demonstrating an "injury in fact." Rather, theplaintiff had to establish, with a high degree of particularity in bothpleading and proof, that the injury was proximately caused by thechallenged conduct of the defendant; that the injury was imminent;that the plaintiff's challenge was not a programmatic challenge to ageneral government policy decision; and that the injury would be re-dressed by a favorable decision on the merits.

B. The Facts of Northeastern Florida

Northeastern Florida presented the Supreme Court with what hasbecome a standard-forn challenge to the concept of affirmative ac-tion. A trade association representing members of the white majoritychallenged the constitutionality, under the Equal Protection Clause,of an affirmative action program adopted through the political pro-

41 See id. at 568-71. This portion of the opinion was signed by only four justices-Justice Scalia, ChiefJustice Rehnquist, Justice White, andJustice Thomas. See id. at 557. Inaddition to the uncertainty about how foreign governments would respond to the financialincentives in the Endangered Species Act, Justice Scalia was unwilling to assume that theother government agencies needed for effective enforcement would be bound to follow aregulation promulgated by the defendant Secretary of the Interior. This was especially soat the commencement of litigation in the district court-the time at which standing was tobe determined-when the Supreme Court had not yet ruled on the binding effect of sucha regulation on other agencies. See id. at 569-71 nn.4 & 5.

42 See 16 U.S.C. § 1540(g) (1) (1988) ("[A]ny person may commence a civil suit on hisown behalf to enjoin any person, including the United States... who is alleged to be inviolation of any provision of this chapter.").

43 See Lujan, 504 U.S. at 572-73.44 See id. at 571-78.45 See id. at 572-78.

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cess to benefit racial minorities. 46 Since the Court confronted its firstmodem affirmative action case in 1974,47 it has had considerable diffi-culty with the affirmative action issue. From 1974 until 1989, theSupreme Court was unable to issue a majority opinion resolving themerits of a constitutional affirmative action case. It disposed of theseven equal protection race cases that it considered during this periodwith one per curiam 48 and six plurality opinions.49

Since 1989, however, the Court has issued five majority opinionsin affirmative action cases that it has resolved on constitutional

46 See Northeastern Fla. Chapter of the Associated Gen. Contractors v. City ofJackson-ville, 113 S. Ct. 2297, 2299 (1998). The Jacksonville ordinance creating the affirmativeaction plan also extended the set-aside to women. Although the plaintiff trade associationmay have had some minority and female members, most of its members did not qualify forthe minority set-aside under the terms of the plan, thereby prompting the trade associationto challenge its constitutionality. Id.

47 See DeFunis v. Odegaard, 416 U.S. 312 (1974) (dismissing challenge by white appli-cant to University of Washington Law School affirmative action program on grounds ofmootness due to impending graduation of applicant, who had been admitted as result ofstate Supreme Court order invalidating challenged program). Characterizing DeFunis asthe first modem affirmative action case treats the race-conscious school desegregationcases as sui generis, although they too are technically affirmative action cases to the extentthat they authorize race-conscious remedies in order to benefit minority students. See, e.g.,Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Bd. of Educ., 402 U.S. 1, 27-28 (1971) (authorizing race-conscious pupil assignment as remedy for prior maintenance of unconstitutional dualschool system). The post-Civil War, Reconstruction cases can also be considered affirma-tive action cases to the extent that they concerned the validity and interpretation of lawsand constitutional provisions enacted to benefit former black slaves. Cf The Slaughter-House Cases, 83 U.S. (16 Wall.) 36 (1873) (holding that special federal judicial protectionof privileges and immunities of U.S. citizenship was intended primarily to benefit formerblack slaves).

48 See DeFunis v. Odegaard, 416 U.S. 312 (1974) (per curiam) (dismissing challengeby white applicant to University of Washington Law School affirmative action program ongrounds of mootness, with four justices dissenting from mootness holding).

49 See United States v. Paradise, 480 U.S. 149 (1987) (Brennan,J.) (four-justice plural-ity opinion upholding constitutionality of district court order requiring Alabama to pro-mote one black state trooper for every white state trooper promoted, in order to remedyeffects of past discrimination); Local 28, Sheet Metal Workers Int'l Ass'n v. EEOC, 478 U.S.421 (1986) (Brennan, J.) (four-justice plurality opinion upholding constitutionality of hir-ing goals, training fund, and contempt citation issued against recalcitrant union to remedypast discrimination); Wygant v. Jackson Bd. of Educ., 476 U.S. 267 (1986) (Powell, J.)(fourjustice plurality opinion invalidating consent decree protecting minority schoolteachers in Jackson, Michigan from layoffs despite having lower seniority than white teach-ers who were laid off); Fullilove v. Klutznick, 448 U.S. 448 (1980) (Burger, CJ.) (three-justice plurality opinion upholding 10% set-aside for minority contractors on federallyfunded public works projects); Regents of the Univ. of Cal. v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978)(Powell, J.) (opinion joined by four other justices, invalidating University of California atDavis set-aside of 16% of medical school seats for minority students, and joined by fourdifferent justices upholding constitutionality of remedial use of race in appropriate circum-stances); UnitedJewish Orgs. v. Carey, 430 U.S. 144 (1977) (White,J.) (plurality opinionjoined on various points by other justices, upholding constitutionality of race-consciousNew York legislative apportionment scheme designed to increase black voting strength).

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grounds,5 0 ultimately holding that all affirmative action programs-whether federal, state, or local-are subject to strictjudicial scrutiny.51

Strict scrutiny has traditionally been fatal scrutiny, suggesting that allaffirmative action may now be unconstitutional.52 However, the Courthas also stated that it will cease to treat strict scrutiny as fatal scru-tiny,53 thereby raising the possibility that some affirmative action pro-grams will continue to be upheld in the future, even under thestringent strict scrutiny standards.54 At the hornbook level of analysis,therefore, it would appear that the Jacksonville set-aside plan at issuein Northeastern Florida now may well be unconsituional-if the plain-tiffs have standing to challenge its constitutionality.55

A municipal ordinance established the Jacksonville plan in 1984,requiring the city to set aside ten percent of the funds expended onmunicipal contracts during each fiscal year for "Minority Business En-

50 See Miller v.Johnson, 115 S. Ct. 2475 (1995) (invalidating after strict scrutiny under

the equal protection clause a state redistricting plan adopted to comply with the federalVoting Rights Act because race was a "predominant" factor in drawing district lines);Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena, 115 S. Ct. 2097 (1995) (subjecting to strict scrutinyunder the equal protection clause a congressional presumption that minority constructioncontractors are socially and economically disadvantaged); Shaw v. Reno, 113 S. Ct. 2816(1993) (subjecting to strict scrutiny under the equal protection clause a state redistrictingplan adopted to comply with the federal Voting Rights Act by increasing minority votingstrength); Metro Broadcasting, Inc. v. FCC, 497 U.S. 547 (1990) (upholding after interme-diate scrutiny under the equal protection clause two FCC broadcast affirmative actionplans authorized by Congress in the exercise of its power under § 5 of the FourteenthAmendment), overruled by Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena, 115 S. Ct. 2097 (1995); Cityof Richmond v. JA Croson Co., 488 U.S. 469 (1989) (subjecting to strict scrutiny underthe equal protection clause a minority construction set-aside plan not authorized by Con-gress in the exercise of its power under § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment); cf UnitedStates v. Hays, 115 S. Ct. 2431 (1995) (denying standing to white voters wishing to chal-lenge the validity under the equal protection clause of a state redistricting plan for a dis-trict in which the white voters did not reside). But see Miller, 115 S. Ct. at 2485 (grantingstanding to white voters wishing to make the same challenge for a district in which they didreside).

51 See Adarand, 115 S. Ct. at 2117 (extending strict scrutiny from state and local to

federal affirmative action plans).52 No racial classification has withstood strict scrutiny under the equal protection

clause since the Supreme Court's 1944 decision in Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S.214 (1994). See STONE ET AL., supra note 1, at 572; see also Fullilove v. Klutznic, 448 U.S.448, 519 (1980) (Marshall, J., concurring in judgment) (Strict scrutiny is "strict in theory,but fatal in fact."). Korematsu's tolerance of the race-based internment ofJapanese-Ameri-can citizens is now generally regarded as the product of wartime hysteria, and the result iswidely discredited. See STONE ET Ai., supra note 1, at 572, and authorities cited therein.

53 See Adarand, 115 S. Ct. at 2117 ("[W]e wish to dispel the notion that strict scrutiny is'strict in theory but fatal in fact.' ") (citations omitted).

54 The test traditionally required under the strict scrutiny standard is that, in order tobe valid, the classification under review must advance a compelling state interest and mustbe necessary to the advancement of that interest. See Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1, 11(1967); cf Korematsu, 323 U.S. at 216.

55 See infra part III.B.l.a (discussing affirmative action). The history of the SupremeCourt's law of affirmative action is discussed extensively in SPANN, RAcE AGAINST THECOURT, supra note 1, at 119-49.

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terprises."56 The ordinance required these "MBEs," as they have cometo be known, to have at least fifty percent minority or female owner-ship if privately held and fifty-one percent minority or female owner-ship if publicly held.57 The term "minority" was defined to includeanyone who considered himself or herself to be "black, Spanish-speak-ing, Oriental, Indian, Eskimo, Aleut, or handicapped."58 The plan ap-pears to have been modeled upon the federal set-aside programwhose constitutionality the Supreme Court had previously upheld inFullilove v. Klutznick. 59 To implement the program, the city's chiefpurchasing officer was to designate certain contracts for MBE bidding,and the designated contracts could be bid upon only by contractorswho had been prequalified as MBEs under the procedures specifiedin the ordinance.60

The plaintiff trade association represented the interests of itsmembers, who were individuals and firms engaged in the constructionindustry in Jacksonville. Because most of the members of the plaintifforganization did not qualify as minorities within the terms of the ordi-nance, they were not eligible to bid on municipal contracts designatedfor the minority set-aside. From 1984 to 1989, the first five years dur-ing which the program was in operation, $14.6 million in contractswere awarded to racial minorities under the program, comprising ap-proximately two percent of the city's total expenditures. 6'

In 1989 the plaintiff filed suit in the United States District Courtfor the Middle District of Florida, arguing that the Jacksonville set-aside plan violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth

56 Northeastern Fla. Chapter of the Associated Gen. Contractors v. City of Jackson-ville, 113 S. Ct. 2297, 2299 (1993).

57 Id.58 Id.

59 448 U.S. 448 (1980) (Burger, C.J.) (three-justice plurality opinion upholding 10%set-aside for minority contractors on federally funded public works projects). Not only the10% minority set-aside concept, but the specification of particular racial minority groups(including Aleuts, who are unlikely to be prevalent in Jacksonville) and the definition ofminority corporate control utilized in the Jacksonville ordinance (including different per-centages for publicly and privately owned businesses) were identical to those specified inthe federal Public Works Employment Act of 1977, which the Supreme Court upheld inFullilove. See id. at 456-59. Because the law of affirmative action was very uncertain whenthe Jacksonville ordinance was enacted in 1984, municipalities often copied the provisionsof the federal statute upheld in Fullilove in order to maximize the likelihood that theirordinances would also be found constitutional. See, e.g., City of Richmond v. J.A. CrosonCo., 488 U.S. 469, 477-80, 505-06 (1989) (discussing similarities between Richmond, Vir-ginia minority set-aside plan and the statute upheld in Fullilove, as well as the belief of thecity's legal counsel that plan would be declared constitutional under the Fullilove decision);id. at 528-29 (Marshall, J., dissenting) (asserting that Richmond set-aside plan was pat-terned upon plan upheld in Fullilove).

60 See Northeastern Fla. Chapter of the Associated Gen. Contractors v. City ofJackson-ville, 951 F.2d 1217, 1219 (11th Cir. 1992).

61 Seei,.

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Amendment both on its face and as applied.62 Although the programhad been in effect for five years, the district court nevertheless issueda temporary restraining order two days after the plaintiff filed thecomplaint.63 Fourteen days later, the court issued a preliminary in-junction prohibiting the city from giving further effect to the set-asideplan.64 In March 1990 the United States Court of Appeals for theEleventh Circuit reversed the district court order on the grounds thatthe plaintiff had failed to demonstrate irreparable injury and re-manded the case for a trial on the merits.6 5

In May 1990, on remand, the district court entered summaryjudgment for the plaintiff, denied the city's cross-motion for summaryjudgment, and permanently enjoined the city from further imple-menting the set-aside program. The court held that the set-aside pro-gram was unconstitutional under the Supreme Court's then-recentdecision in City of Richmond v. JA. Croson Co.66 In January 1992 theCourt of Appeals again reversed the district court, this time holdingthat the plaintiff lacked standing to sue.67 The Court of Appeals rea-soned that the plaintiff lacked standing because it had not establishedinjury of an economic nature in that it had not demonstrated that"but for the program, any [trade association] member would have bidsuccessfully for any of these contracts."68 On October 5, 1992, theSupreme Court granted certiorari to resolve a conflict among the cir-cuits. 69 On October 27, 1992, just twenty-two days after the SupremeCourt had granted certiorari, the Jacksonville City Council repealedthe set-aside ordinance that had been the subject of the litigation andreplaced it with a new ordinance that took effect the following day.70

62 See id. at 1217.

63 See id.

64 Northeastern Fla. Chapter of the Associated Gen. Contractors v. City ofJackson-

ville, No. 89-278 (M.D. Fla. Apr. 20, 1989).65 Northeastern Fla. Chapter of the Associated Gen. Contractors v. City ofJackson-

ville, 896 F.2d 1283, 1286 (11th Cir. 1990). The ChiefJudge argued that the suit should bedismissed for lack of standing. See id. at 1287-88 (Tjoflat, C.J., specially concurring).

66 Northeastern Fla. Chapter of the Associated Gen. Contractors v. City of Jackson-

ville, No. 89-278 (M.D. Fla. May 31, 1990) (citing City of Richmond v.J.A. Croson Co., 488U.S. 469 (1989)).

67 Northeastern Fla. Chapter of the Associated Gen. Contractors v. City ofJackson-

ville, 951 F.2d 1217, 1220 (11th Cir. 1992).68 Id. at 1219.

69 Northeastern Fla. Chapter of the Associated Gen. Contractors v. City ofJackson-ville, 113 S. Ct. 50 (1992). The Court found the decision of the Eleventh Circuit to conflictwith the decision of the District of Columbia Circuit in O'Donnell Construction co. v.District of Columbia, 963 F.2d 420, 423 (D.C. Cir. 1992), and the decision of the NinthCircuit in Coral Construction Co. v. King County, 941 F.2d 910, 930 (9th Cir. 1991), cert.denied, 502 U.S. 1033 (1992). See Northeastern Fla. Chapter of the Associated Gen. Con-tractors v. City ofJacksonville, 113 S. Ct. 2297, 2300 (1993).

70 Northeastern Florida, 113 S. Ct. at 2300.

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The new ordinance appears to have been designed to accommo-date the changes that the Supreme Court had made to its Fulliloveholding in City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co.71 In Croson, the Courtemphasized the need for findings of past discrimination and for flexi-bility in fashioning a plan that was narrowly tailored to remedy thecontinuing consequences of that past discrimination. 72 Accordingly,the newJacksonville plan defined the term "minority" to include onlywomen and blacks, rather than the seven categories enumerated inthe original ordinance. 73 In addition, the new ordinance replaced theten percent "set-aside" of the original ordinance with "participationgoals" that ranged from five to sixteen percent depending upon thetype of contract involved, the ownership of the contractor, and thefiscal year in which the contract was awarded. Finally, the new ordi-nance provided five methods for the city to use in pursuing the partic-ipation goals, with the determination of the most appropriate methodto be made on a project-by-project basis. One of these methods, the"Sheltered Market Plan," reserved certain contracts for bidding bycompanies that were owned by blacks or women.74

After the city repealed the original ordinance, the city moved todismiss the appeal pending before the Supreme Court as moot. OnDecember 14, 1992, the Court denied this motion without explana-tion,75 although it did include a discussion of mootness in its subse-quent opinion resolving the appeal.76 In the Court's final opinion,issued on June 14, 1993, Justice Thomas, writing for a seven justicemajority, held that the case was not moot because the city's repeal ofthe original set-aside ordinance was merely a voluntary cessation of achallenged activity and thus did not serve as a basis for mootness.77

The opinion asserted that the voluntary cessation rule was particularlyapplicable to the Jacksonville ordinance, in which the challenged pro-vision was immediately reenacted as the "Sheltered Market Plan."78

Justice Thomas went on to hold that the plaintiff trade association didnot lack standing, even though it had failed to demonstrate that evenone of its members would have been awarded one of the contracts atissue but for the set-aside plan. He reasoned that, with respect to anequal protection challenge, the denial of an opportunity to bid on acontract constituted an injury sufficient to confer standing, regardless

71 488 U.S. 469 (1989).72 See id. at 486-511.73 Northeastern F/orida, 113 S. C. at 2800.74 Id.75 Northeastern Fla. Chapter of the Associated Gen. Contractors v. City of Jackson-

ville, 113 S. Ct. 808 (1992).76 See Northeastern Forida, 113 S. C. at 2301.

77 Id.78 Id.

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of whether the putative bid would have ultimately been accepted.7 9

Only Justices O'Connor and Blackmun declined to join JusticeThomas's majority opinion, dissenting on the grounds that the casehad been rendered moot by the enactment of the new Jacksonvilleordinance.8



The principal problem with Northeastern Norida is that it cannot besquared with the existing law of standing. As a doctrinal matter, Jus-tice Thomas's opinion in Northeastern Florida ignores the invigoratedstanding requirements that the Supreme Court adopted during itspreceding Terms. National Wildlife Federation holds that a plaintiffmust suffer an injury that is proximate, imminent, and nonprogram-matic to establish standing. Moreover, satisfaction of these require-ments at the summary judgment stage of litigation demands apleading and evidentiary showing that is highly specific.8 ' In addition,Lujan superimposes on an otherwise qualifying injury a rigid redres-sability requirement that is very difficult to satisfy when the injury isultimately traceable to the actions of third parties.82 This redres-sability requirement has been deemed so essential that the Courtfound it to be compelled by Article 111.83

The plaintiff in Northeastern F/orida satisfied none of these doctri-nal requirements. Moreover, the fact that the Court issued an opin-ion upholding the plaintiff's standing despite the rather obviousmootness of the case makes Justice Thomas's opinion seem gratui-tous. Although the law of standing is quite confused, it is not so con-fused that one can fail to spot Northeastern Florida as a suspiciousaberration in the Court's justiciability jurisprudence.

A. The Injury Is Not Proximate

The lost contractual opportunities that the plaintiff claimed weresuffered by its members in Northeastern Florida were not proximate in thesense that National Wildlife Federation now requires. In National WildlifeFederation, the plaintiff was denied standing to challenge the with-drawal of certain federal lands from federal protection because theplaintiff's allegations and proof were not sufficiently specific. 84 The

79 See id. at 2301-04.80 Id. at 2305 (O'Connor, J., dissenting with Blackmun, J.).81 See supra notes 34-38 and accompanying text (discussing National Wildlife

Federation).82 See Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560-62.83 See supra notes 39-45 and accompanying text (discussing Lujan).84 See Lujan v. National Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 889 (1990).

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plaintiff had alleged that its members "are suffering and will continueto suffer injury... [because they] use and enjoy the environmentalresources that will be adversely affected by the challenged actions...regularly... for fishing, hunting, bird and wildlife watching, canoeingand boating, hiking, camping, and other similar activities."85 In addi-tion, the plaintiff appended to its complaint a list of 788 land statusactions under the challenged program that illustrated the alleged ad-verse effects.86

The Supreme Court held that the plaintiff did not identify specifictracts of land used by its members that would be opened for miningoperations. Rather, the plaintiff's affidavits averred that the plaintiff'smembers used land in the "vicinity" of certain identified tracts. TheSupreme Court found these averments to be insufficiently specific.8 7

Justice Scalia stated that the affidavits were insufficient because, in thecontext of a motion for summary judgment, the injury requirement

is assuredly not satisfied by averments which state only that one ofrespondent's members uses unspecified portions of an immensetract of territory, on some portions of which mining activity has oc-curred or probably will occur by virtue of the governmental action.It will not do to "presume" the missing facts because without themthe affidavits would not establish the injury that they generallyallege.88

In Northeastern Forida, the plaintiff trade association "alleged thatit* members regularly bid on construction contracts in Jacksonville,and that they would have bid on contracts set aside pursuant to thecity's ordinance were they so able."89 This allegation is less specificthan the allegation found inadequate in National Wildlife Federation inthat it does not refer to particular construction contracts the way theNational Wildlife Federation complaint referred to particular tracts offederal land.90 Moreover, despite Justice Scalia's insistence in NationalWildlife Federation that highly specific affidavits were required at thesummary judgment stage-not simply conclusory allegations thatwould suffice at the motion-to-dismiss stage, as illustrated by casessuch as SCRAPF9-Justice Thomas's opinion in Northeastern Floridamakes no reference whatsoever to any affidavits identifying specific

85 See National Wildlife Fed'n v. Burford, 835 F.2d 305, 312 (D.C. Cir. 1987) (quotingfrom complaint).

86 See id. at 312.87 See National Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. at 885-89.88 See id. at 889.89 See Northeastern Fla. Chapter of the Associated Gen. Contractors v. City ofJackson-

ville, 113 S. Ct. 2297, 2304 (1993); see also id. at 2299.90 See supra text accompanying note 86 (discussing list of 788 land status actions ap-

pended to plaintiff's complaint in National Widlife Federation).91 See National Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. at 883-85, 889.

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contracts on which the plaintiff's members were prepared to bid.Rather, Justice Thomas upheld the plaintiff's standing solely on thebasis of a single allegation made in the complaint.92

Not only did the Northeastern Florida plaintiff fail to provide affida-vits, but the allegation on which it relied was not even as specific as theNational Wildlife Federation affidavits. In National Wildlife Federation, theplaintiff's members averred that they used land that was at least in the"vicinity" of particular tracts that the government had opened to ex-ploitation. The conceptual equivalent of the "vicinity" allegationunder the facts of Northeastern Florida would have been an allegationthat contractors who bid on particular types of contracts in particulargeographic areas of the city were prepared to bid on those types ofcontracts, and that those types of contracts were going to be removedfrom general bidding because of their inclusion in the set-aside pro-gram. The plaintiff in Northeastern Florida made no such allegations.

The clearest way to illustrate the conflict between National WildlifeFederation and Northeastern Florida is to apply Justice Scalia's languagein National Wildlife Federation to the facts of the Northeastern Florida case.If Justice Scalia's words were adapted to the facts of Northeastern Flor-ida, they would assert that the injury requirement

is assuredly not satisfied by [allegations] which state only that one of[plaintiff's] members [bids on] unspecified portions of an immense[public contracting program], on some portions of which [minorityset-aside] activity has occurred or probably will occur by virtue ofthe governmental action. It will not do to "presume" the missingfacts because without them the [allegations] would not establish theinjury that they generally allege.93

As this transposition of Justice Scalia's language demonstrates,the plaintiff in Northeastern Florida lacked standing for precisely thesame reason that the plaintiff in National Wildlife Federation lacked

92 See NortheasternFlorida, 113 S. Ct. at 2301-05. The 6nlyjustificationJustice Thomasoffers for not requiring affidavits or some other evidence at the summary judgment stage isthat the City ofJacksonville had moved for summary judgment on the merits and had notchallenged the plaintiff's standing. See id at 2300 n.1. This assertion is puzzling in light ofthe Court's insistence in Lujan-the standing decision that immediately preceded North-eastern F/oida-that the invigorated injury requirements adopted by the Court in NationalWdlife Federation were Article Il, constitutional requirements, not mere prudential ones.See Lujan, 504 U.S. at 559-62, 571-78. As a result, the issue of the plaintiff's standing inNortheastern Forida was a jurisdictional issue that the Court had the constitutional obliga-tion to resolve for itself regardless of whether the city chose to object. See United States v.Hays, 115 S. Ct. 2431, 2435 (1995) (court required to address the issue of standing even ifthe parties fail to raise the issue). Because National Wildlife Federation established that affi-davits, rather than mere allegations, were required to resolve this jurisdictional issue at thesummaryjudgment stage, it is unclear why Justice Thomas thought that he could dispensewith the affidavit requirement and rely solely on the conclusory pleadings contained in thecomplaint.

93 Cf. National Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. at 889.

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standing. In both cases, the plaintiffs injury was not sufficiently proxi-mate to the defendant's action to give rise to ajusticiable injury.

B. The Injury Is Not Imminent

The alleged injury in Northeastern Florida was also insufficiently im-minent to serve as a basis for standing under National Wildlife Federa-tion. Although the National Wildlife Federation Court stressed thespecificity defects of the two member affidavits that the district courthad accepted, there were four additional member affidavits that thedistrict court refused to consider. Those additional affidavits appearto have presented no specificity problems, but the district court never-theless rejected them as untimely.94 Although Justice Scalia was will-ing to affirm the district court's discretionary decision to reject theaffidavits as untimely,95 his primary holding with respect to the foursupplemental affidavits was that the injuries they averred were not suf-ficiently imminent to establish standing. For Justice Scalia, the prob-lem with the four supplemental affidavits was not that they wereinsufficiently specific in identifying tracts of affected federal property,but rather that the exploitation of the identified tracts had not yetprogressed far enough to establish the plaintiff's standing.96

Although such concerns are typically viewed as relating to the doc-trine of ripeness rather than standing,97 Justice Scalia chose to infusean imminence requirement into the law of standing as well.98

Once again, comparing the facts of National Wildlife Federation tothe facts of Northeastern Florida reveals that the Northeastern Floridaplaintiff did not satisfy the Court's new imminence requirement forstanding. In National Wildlife Federation, Justice Scalia discussed one ofthe four supplemental affidavits, noting that the affiant averred that aparticular company had filed an application for a permit to mine aportion of the tract of land her affidavit identified as public land thatshe used for recreational and aesthetic purposes. The Bureau of LandManagement, however, had not yet acted on that application.Although the affiant's injury would have been sufficient for standinghad the permit been granted, it was, according to Justice Scalia, "im-possible to tell [prior to issuance of the permit] where or whethermining activities will occur. Indeed, it is often impossible to tell from

94 See id. at 881, 890-98.95 See id. at 894-98.96 See id. at 891-94; id. at 892 n.3 (discussing contingencies that would have to occur

before exploitation of federal lands actually commenced).97 See Abbott Lab. v. Gardner, 387 U.S. 136, 148-56 (1967) (discussing ripeness re-

quirement for judicial review of administrative agency actions); see also Gardner v. ToiletGoods Ass'n, 387 U.S. 167, 171-73 (1967); Toilet Goods Ass'n v. Gardner, 387 U.S. 158,164-66 (1967) (same); see generally BREYER & STEwART, supra note 1, at 1092-1115 (same).

98 See National Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. at 891-94.

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a classification order alone, whether mining activities will even bepermissible."99

In Northeastern Florida, there were no affidavits or allegations ofcomparable specificity.100 Moreover, the plaintiff's general allegationthat some of its members would have bid on set-aside contracts were itnot for the challenged minority set-aside program was less imminentthan the supplemental affidavits found wanting in National WildlifeFederation.

In National Wildlife Federation, a permit had at least been appliedfor, and the only contingency at the time of the litigation related towhether the government would grant or deny the permit application.In Northeastern Florida, by contrast, no member of the plaintiff tradeassociation had ever applied for a contract. 101 As a result, the immi-nence problem was greater in Northeastern Florida than in NationalWildlife Federation in three ways: First, in Northeastern Florida it was un-certain whether any of the plaintiff's members would have the time,inclination, or capacity to bid on any particular contract that the cityput out for competitive bidding. Second, it was uncertain whether thecity would grant any particular contract to any of the plaintiff s mem-bers who were prepared to bid on them. Third, it was uncertainwhether any contract that one of the plaintiff's members was preparedto bid on, and that the city was prepared to award to that member,would be set aside by the city for exclusive minority bidding.

These three contingencies indicate that the plaintiff in Northeast-ern Florida did not satisfy the imminence requirement that precludedstanding in National Wildlife Federation, in which only one contingencywas present. Justice Scalia's language in National Wildlife Federation isagain instructive: Given such contingencies, it is "impossible to tellwhere or whether [contracting] activities will occur. Indeed, it isoften impossible to tell from a [set-aside program] alone whether[particular contracts] will even be [granted]. u"02

There is yet another reason why it is unreasonable to claim thatthe plaintiff in Northeastern Florida satisfied the National Wildlife Federa-tion imminence requirement. Far from being imminent, the plain-tiff's challenge appears to have been moot. After the Supreme Courtdecided City of Richmond v. JA. Croson Co.,10 3 the continued constitu-

tional validity of Fullilove-type minority set-aside programs, such as the

99 See id. at 892 n.3 (discussing affidavit of Peggy Peterson, one of the original affiantswho also filed one of the four supplemental affidavits after the standing issue was drawninto focus in the district court).100 See supra part IIA.101 See Northeastern Fkrida, 113 S. Ct. at 2299, 2304 (complaint alleged only that un-

named members of plaintiff trade association would have bid on set-aside contracts).102 Cf National WldlifeFed'n, 497 U.S. at 892 n.3.103 488 U.S. 469 (1989).

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program originally adopted by the Jacksonville City Council, wascalled into serious question. 10 4 Accordingly, when the Supreme Courtgranted certiorari in Northeastern Florida, the Jacksonville City Councilimmediately replaced its set-aside program with a new minority prefer-ence program that relied upon more flexible "participation goals"that could be achieved through one of five alternative strategies, se-lected on a case-by-case basis. 10 5 The new program's substitution of"participation goals" for set-aside "quotas," as well as its reliance on acase-by-case selection among remedial strategies, appears to have beena direct effort to comply with the dictates of the Supreme Court'sopinion in Croson, in which the Court disapproved of the use of quotasand stressed the need for flexible discrimination remedies that werenarrowly tailored to the scope of the past discrimination. 106 In sum,the set-aside plan whose constitutionality the plaintiff challenged nolonger existed at the time the Supreme Court held that the plaintiffhad standing to challenge it.

Although one of the alternatives available under the new pro-gram, the "Sheltered Market Plan," was in effect a minority set-asidewith variable percentage goals, the Court had no evidence about howJacksonville would implement the new program. 07 Because the Shel-tered Market Plan was only one of five alternatives, it was not clearwhether the city would ever use that alternative. Moreover, if it diduse the alternative, it was unknown what percentage goals would beselected, and what contextual factors would go into the selection ofthose percentage goals-issues that would be very relevant to any ad-judication of the constitutionality of the new program under Croson.These issues raise the very sort of contingencies that the National Wild-life Federation Court found fatal to standing under the imminence re-quirement. Yet the Northeastern Florida Court did not find themtroubling, even though they seem central to any imminence inquiry.

The only justification that Justice Thomas offered in NortheasternFlorida for ignoring the salient mootness of the plaintiff s claim wasthe exception to the doctrine of mootness for defendants who volun-tarily cease their challenged conduct. 08 This voluntary cessation ex-ception is intended to ensure that a defendant cannot escape thepossibility of an adjudication on the merits by ceasing to engage in a

104 See id at 486-93 (applying more stringent standard of equal protection scrutiny tostate and local affirmative action programs than to congressional affirmative action pro-grams); id. at 493-509 (invalidating, on equal protection grounds, municipal set-aside pro-gram very similar to Jacksonville program).

105 See Northeastern Forida, 113 S. C. at 2300.106 See Croson, 488 U.S. at 498-511.107 See Northeastern Forida, 113 S. Ct. at 2300.108 See id. at 2301.

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disputed action each time the action is challenged in court.'0 9 Ac-cordingly, the exception does not apply to situations in which the de-fendant modifies the challenged action in order to honor a recentchange in Supreme Court law.110

The voluntary cessation exception seems inapplicable to North-eastern Florida. Application of the exception might have made sense ifthere were some danger that the city of Jacksonville would re-institutethe old set-aside program once the litigation was dismissed on moot-ness grounds. But there was no such danger. The City ofJacksonvillehad modified its program in order to comply with, rather than evade,new Supreme Court requirements for affirmative action plans.Notwithstanding this change, only the old set-aside program wasbefore the Supreme Court. As far as the record revealed, the newprogram had never been used, and it had certainly never been chal-lenged by the plaintiff. Because the only program before the Courtwas a program that was no longer in effect, it is difficult to imagine acase that could be less imminent than Northeastern F/orida was at thetime that the Supreme Court granted the plaintiff standing to main-tain it.

Even if Jacksonville's abandonment of its old set-aside plan didnot technically deprive the Supreme Court of jurisdiction on moot-ness grounds, it would still fail to satisfy the imminence requirementthat is now essential to standing. In City of Mesquite v. Aladdin's Cas-tle,"' the case thatJustice Thomas purported to follow in Northeasternf/orida,l2 the Supreme Court stated: "Such abandonment is an im-

portant factor bearing on the question whether a court should exer-cise its power to enjoin the defendant from renewing the practice, butthat is a matter relating to the exercise rather than the existence ofjudicial power."1'3 After having gone to such great lengths to erectthe imminence requirement in National Wildlife Federation, the absenceof imminence in Northeastern Forida would certainly constitute suffi-cient reason for declining to exercise any residue of jurisdiction thatthe Court might have retained underJustice Thomas's reading of themootness doctrine." 4

109 See id.; City of Mesquite v. Aladdin's Castle, 455 U.S. 283, 288-89 (1982); United

States v. Concentrated Phosphate Export Ass'n, 393 U.S. 199, 203-04 (1968); United Statesv. W.T. Grant Co., 345 U.S. 629, 632-33 (1953); United States v. Trans-Missouri FreightAss'n, 166 U.S. 290 (1897).

110 Cf. Northeastern Florida 113 S. Ct. at 2301 n.3 (degree of difference between old andnew ordinance controls moomess issue).

11 455 U.S. 283 (1982).112 See Northeastern F/orida, 113 S. Ct. at 2301.113 City of Mesquite, 455 U.S. at 289.114 But see United States v. Concentrated Phosphate Export Ass'n, 393 U.S. 199, 203-04

(1968) (asserting without elaboration or explanation that Court had "no choice" but todecide case that was not moot).

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C. The Injury Is Not Nonprogrammatic

The stringent specificity requirements thatJustice Scalia imposedin National Wildlife Federation seem on their face to be artificial. It isnot apparent why an organizational plaintiff should have standing ifits members make recreational or aesthetic use of a tract of land thatthe government has chosen to open up to commercial exploitation,but not if the members make use of land that is merely in the "vicin-ity" of the tract opened to exploitation. 1 5 After all, recreational andaesthetic interests can be harmed whether a company is mining thetract of land on which one is camping or is mining an adjoining tract.If Justice Scalia's specificity requirement is to have any meaningfulcontent, it must be viewed as an incident to his more general view thatthe plaintiff in National Wildlife Federation had not challenged a "finalagency action."1 16

The "agency action" that the plaintiff challenged in National Wild-life Federation consisted of two subsidiary actions. First, there was aninitial, general decision made by the Department of the Interior dur-ing the Reagan Administration to withdraw federal lands from federalprotection so that they could be opened up for commercial exploita-tion. Second, this general decision was followed by a series of specificactions taken during the Reagan and Bush Administrations to openup particular tracts of land to commercial exploitation. The plaintiffalleged that both the initial decision to adopt a program withdrawingpublic lands from federal protection and the discrete subsidiary ac-tions taken to implement that withdrawal program constituted "finalagency actions" that were taken in violation of various environmentallaws.117

Justice Scalia's opinion held that no such "program" was subjectto judicial review. Assuming that the alleged program existed, he rea-soned that it was an initial agency action. The action did not become"final" until it had been implemented with respect to particular tractsof land. 118 Therefore, Justice Scalia's insistence on highly specific ref-erences to particular tracts of land in the plaintiffs affidavits and on ahigh level of imminence with respect to the likely development ofeach particular tract was meant to ensure thatjudicial review would bedelayed until the implementation phase of the land withdrawal "pro-gram." In sum, Justice Scalia was willing to permit judicial review ofparticular applications of the land withdrawal "program," but not ofthe "program" itself.

115 See Lujan v. National Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 885-89 (1990) (holding "vicinity"affidavit insufficiently specific for standing).

116 See id. at 890-94.117 See id.118 See id.

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One could certainly disagree with Justice Scalia's preference forimplementation-level, father than programmatic, challenges to newly-adopted executive policies. Although implementation challenges arelikely to be accompanied by the enhanced contextual benefits that thedoctrine of ripeness is intended to secure, they are also likely to beaccompanied by high levels of inertia, entrenchment, and sunk coststhat will make it more difficult for a reviewing court to invalidate anagency's implementation actions. Moreover, the heightened practicalimpediments to maintaining implementation challenges-such aspreparing specific affidavits for each of the thousands of implementa-tion actions that an agency might take in connection with oneprogrammatic decision-will mean that many implementation actionswill simply have to go unchallenged.

Justice Scalia was aware of this difficulty in National Wildlife Federa-tion. His majority opinion stated:

The case-by-case approach that this requires is understandably frus-trating to an organization such as respondent, which has as its ob-

jective across-the-board protection of our Nation's wildlife and thestreams and forests that support it. But this is the traditional, andremains the normal, mode of operation of the courts. Exceptwhere Congress explicitly provides for our correction of the admin-istrative process at a higher level of generality, we intervene in theadministration of the laws only when, and to the extent that, a spe-cific "final agency action" has an actual or immediately threatenedeffect.119

It appears thatJustice Scalia preferred the risk of under-enforcementto the dangers that he perceived to accompany programmaticchallenges.

Justice Scalia never specified what dangers might be associatedwith a programmatic challenge. He merely refers to the customarydangers associated with claims that are not yet ripe for review. Theseripeness dangers, however, are often outweighed by the dangers ofdelaying review. 120 Accordingly, it is possible thatJustice Scalia fearedstringent private enforcement itself-which would be facilitated ifprogrammatic challenges were permitted-and preferred instead thediluted level of private enforcement that would result from allowingimplementation-only challenges. Regardless of how one views theprudence of the Supreme Court's preclusion of programmatic chal-

119 I- at 894. This assertion is somewhat disingenuous in thatJustice Scalia is givingnew meaning to the statutory term "final agency action" in the Administrative ProcedureAct, not simply following a settled interpretation of the statutory language adopted byCongress.

120 See id. at 893 (quoting Abbott Lab. v. Gardner, 387 U.S. 136, 152-54 (1967) (permit-ting preenforcement challenge to drug advertising regulations where dangers of delayingreview outweighed danger of permitting preenforcement review)).

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lenges to government programs, however, it is clear that the Courtfailed to apply its own programmatic preclusion in Northeastern Florida.

As the proximity 21 and imminence122 discussions above illus-trate, the plaintiff's challenge in Northeastern Florida was a program-matic challenge, not a challenge to any particular implementation ofthe Jacksonville set-aside plan. None of the plaintiff's members hadbid on or been denied a contract on the grounds that the contracthad been set aside for a minority contractor. 123 Rather, the plaintiffschallenge was to the abstract idea of a minority set-aside "program."

Like the plaintiff in National Wildlife Federation, the plaintiff in North-eastern Florida attempted an "across-the-board" challenge at the adop-tion, rather than the implementation, stage of the governmentprogram. And like the plaintiff in National Wildlife Federation, theplaintiff in Northeastern Florida made a challenge that occurred at toohigh a "level of generality" to constitute "final agency action" forjudi-cial review. As a result, the plaintiff in Northeastern Florida lackedstanding to maintain its programmatic challenge every bit as much asdid the plaintiff in National Wildlife Federation.

D. The Injury Is Not Redressable

In Lujan the Supreme Court reaffirmed the strict standing de-mands it had adopted in National Wildlife Federation, and then gavethose demands constitutional status by linking them to an enhancedredressability requirement.124 Justice Scalia's majority opinion speci-fies a three-part test that the plaintiff must meet in order to establishthe existence of an injury sufficient to satisfy the Article III case-or-controversy requirement. First, the plaintiff has to suffer an "injury infact" that is "concrete and particularized," as well as "actual or immi-nent," rather than "conjectural or hypothetical." Second, there mustbe a "fairly traceable" causal connection between the injury and thechallenged conduct, establishing that the injury is not the result of the"independent actions of some third party not before the court."Third, it must be "likely" and not merely "speculative" that the plain-tiff's injury will be "redressed by a favorable decision" on the merits.125

In Northeastern Florida, Justice Thomas quoted Justice Scalia's Lu-jan opinion in identifying the "irreducible minimum" that is required

121 See supra part IA122 See supra part II.B.

123 See Northeastern Fborida, 113 S. Ct. at 2299, 2304 (complaint alleged only that un-named members of plaintiff trade association would have bid on set-aside contracts).

124 See supra notes 39-45 (discussing Lujan opinion).125 See Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61 (1992).

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for standing, 26 but ultimately disregarded the redressability elementofJustice Scalia's three-part test in holding that the plaintiff trade as-sociation had standing. In terms of redressability, Lujan and Northeast-ern I/oida are indistinguishable. The Court characterized the injuryasserted by the plaintiff in Lujan as too attenuated and too dependentupon the actions of third parties to be redressable within the meaningof the Article III case-or-controversy requirement. The plaintiff hadchallenged the legality of a new regulation promulgated by the Secre-tary of the Interior that exempted United States funded foreign con-struction projects from the Endangered Species Act requirement forinteragency consultation. This requirement ensured that federally-funded actions were not likely to jeopardize any endangered orthreatened species. In support of its standing, the plaintiff had sub-mitted affidavits from two of its members who averred that they hadtraveled to particular foreign countries in order to observe specifiedendangered species that were jeopardized by specified fundedprojects, and that they intended to do so again in the future.127

After ruling that the absence of particular dates and particular-ized plans for these future trips failed to satisfy the proximate-immi-nent-nonprogrammatic requirement of National Wildlife Federation,128

Justice Scalia's opinion went on to hold that even if the injury assertedby the plaintiff were otherwise sufficient, the injury was notredressable in the sense required by the case-or-controversy require-ment of Article III. Redressability was lacking because, even if theplaintiff received the relief that it requested-that is, if the Secretaryof the Interior adopted a regulation requiring consultation betweenall agencies involved in funding foreign projects in order to minimizejeopardy to endangered and threatened species-the other agenciesthat funded foreign projects might refuse to comply with the Secre-tary's regulation.

Even if the other agencies complied with the Secretary's regula-tion, and foreign funding was consequently withheld, foreign govern-ments might nevertheless decide to continue their constructionprojects without United States funding. This would perpetuate thedanger to endangered and threatened species that the plaintiff soughtto eliminate, even though the plaintiff had been granted precisely theremedy that it desired on the merits. Redress of the injury aboutwhich the plaintiff complained was ultimately dependent upon the ac-

126 See Northeastern Florida, 113 S. Ct. at 2302 (quoting Lujan, 112 S. Ct. at 2136); see alsosupra text accompanying note 19 (quoting Northeastern Forida statement of constitutionaltest for standing).

127 See Lujan, 504 U.S. at 563-64.128 See id. at 562-67.

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tions of third parties-other funding agencies and foreign govern-ments-who were not before the Court.129

The very same third-party redressability problem was present inNortheastern Florida. The members of the plaintiff trade association inNortheastern Florida had not alleged or averred with particularity whatconstruction contracts they would have bid on in the absence of theJacksonville set-aside program. 30 Even if the plaintiff's members hadmade particularized allegations and averments, however, the injurythat they alleged still might not have been redressed by a favorabledecision on the merits. If the Jacksonville set-aside program were in-validated, the city might still fail to award the plaintiff's members thecontracts on which they bid. Not only did their ability to secure theaward of particular contracts depend upon the actions of theJackson-ville municipal officials who participated in the contract-awarding pro-cess, but the award of particular contracts ultimately depended uponthe contract bids submitted by competing contractors. Because thesecompetitors were third parties who were not before the Court, andbecause their actions could affect whether the plaintiff's memberswould be awarded a contract, their actions precluded a finding ofredressability under the terms of Lujan.131

One might sensibly argue that it is unrealistic to require absoluteredressability to satisfy the demands of Article IlI; the mere elimina-tion of a substantial impediment to redress of the plaintiffs injuryought to be sufficient to establish standing. Because the universe is acomplicated place, in which meaningful causal relationships are verydifficult to ascertain, the problem of determining causation has longperplexed the legal system.13 2 Accordingly, when the law of standingrequires that an injury "fairly can be traced to the challenged action ofthe defendant,"'33 the qualifier "fairly" indicates that something lessthan absolute redressability will satisfy the demands of Article III.However, this is the precise argument that the Court seems to haverejected in Lujan, in which the denial of United States funding wasdeemed insufficient for standing. 34 Standing was denied eventhough it could "fairly" be said that the presence or absence of suchfunding is likely to be a substantial factor in a foreign government's

129 See id. at 568-71.130 * See supra part IIA.131 See Northeastern Fla. Chapter of the Associated Gen. Contractors v. City ofJackson-

ville, 113 S. Ct. 2297, 2302-03 (1993); cf. Lujan, 540 U.S. at 568-71.132 See generally Symposium on Causation in the Law of Torts, 63 CHm.-Krr. L. REv. 397

(1987); Symposium, Causation and Financial Compensation, 73 GEO. L.J. 1357 (1985).133 See Northeastern Florida, 113 S. Ct. at 2302 (quoting Simon v. Eastern Ky. Welfare

Rights Org., 426 U.S. 26, 41 (1976)) (emphasis added).134 See Lujan, 504 U.S. at 568-71.

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decision to proceed with a construction project in disregard of theharm to endangered or threatened species.' 3 5

This argument has even more appeal than is initially apparent.The meaning of a "fairly" traceable causal connection is largely inde-terminate. As a result, supplying meaning to that term is more an actof legislative policymaking than of judicial interpretation. Becausethe causation-redressability requirement directly affects the degree towhich private enforcement actions will be used to supplement govern-mental enforcement of a legal provision, this policy determinationshould be made by a politically accountable legislature. Indeed, thatis precisely what is embodied in the zone-of-interest or "nexus" testthat the Court sometimes requires for standing in addition to the in-jury requirement. 3 6 Congress arguably makes such a determinationwhen it speaks to the issue of who should have standing to enforceparticular statutes, striking the desired balance between the pros andcons of private enforcement.

In Lujan, Congress explicitly granted standing to "any person" toenforce the consultation provisions of the Endangered Species Act,'37

thereby indicating that Congress intended high levels of supplementalprivate enforcement for the statute. Ironically, Justice Scalia's major-ity opinion in Lujan viewed the Article III redressability requirementas so important that it declared the statute's "citizen suit" standingprovision to be unconstitutional.'38 However, it is actually the Court'sinvalidation of the "citizen suit" provision that appears to be unconsti-tutional because it substitutes judicial for legislative policy preferencesconcerning the appropriate level of supplemental private enforce-ment for a congressional enactment. In ignoring the Article IIIdimensions of the zone-of-interest or nexus inquiry-which the Courtmistakenly views as prudential rather than constitutional' 39-theCourt itself violated separation-of-powers restrictions on its exercise oflegislative power.140

135 See id. at 599-601 (Blackmun, J., dissenting).

136 A plaintiff is within the zone of interest of the statute or constitutional provisionthat the plaintiff seeks to enforce if the drafters of that provision intended to benefit theplaintiff. See Barlow v. Collins, 397 U.S. 159, 164 (1970); Association of Data ProcessingServ. Orgs. v. Camp, 397 U.S. 150, 152-56 (1970); see also Spann, ExpositoryJustice supra note1, at 638-39. Although the zone-of-interest or nexus test was initially easy to satisfy, theSupreme Court has recently applied it with considerable stringency. See Air Courier Con-ference v. American Postal Workers Union, 498 U.S. 517, 523-25 (1991) (declining to con-tinue assuming that Congress intended to benefit all incidental beneficiaries of itslegislation and instead demanding stronger showing of congressional intent to benefitplaintiff whose standing was at issue).

137 See Lujan, 504 U.S. at 571-78.138 See id.139 See Barlow, 397 U.S. at 164-65; Data Procesing, 397 U.S. at 154-56 (1970).140 See Spann, ExpositoyJustice, supra note 1, at 632-47 (arguing that zone-of-interest

rather than injury test should be viewed as constitutionally compelled).

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Although one could easily disagree with the Supreme Court's de-cision to read a stringent redressability requirement into the languageof Article III, one would still expect the Court to apply this require-ment consistently. However, the effort that Justice Thomas made inNortheastern Florida to distinguish the Court's prior redressability deci-sions was both minimal and unconvincing. Justice Thomas stated sim-ply that Northeastern Florida was distinguishable from the Court's priorredressability decisions because it was an equal protection case.' 41 Assuch, the plaintiff was not required to show that the injury it assertedwould actually be redressed through the award of the contract on whichit wished to bid, but merely that it was denied the opportunity to haveits bid considered.'42 This diluted redressability requirement resultedfrom the fact that the essence of an equal protection claim is the de-nial of the right to equal consideration. 143

Prior to Northeastern Florida, the Supreme Court had never sug-gested that the redressability requirement applied differently to equalprotection cases. In fact, the Court had denied standing in equal pro-tection race cases, such as Warth v. Seldin,'4 on grounds that explicitlyincluded insufficient causation and lack of redressability.145 More-over, all of the equal protection cases thatJustice Thomas discussed inNortheastern Florida were decided before the Supreme Court strength-ened the stringency of the redressability requirement in Lujan.'4

Justice Thomas's handling of the redressability precedents inNortheastern Florida was noticeably disingenuous. However, the realreason that his purported distinction of those precedents fails is thatthere is no analytically sound reason why equal protection casesshould be treated differently from other standing cases. JusticeThomas reasoned that the essence of an equal protection claim wasthe procedural right to equal consideration, not equal outcome.147 In arather remarkable sentence offered as part of his effort to distinguish

141 Northeastern Fla. Chapter of the Associated Gen. Contractors v. City of Jackson-ville, 113 S. Ct. 2297, 2303 (1993).

142 Id.143 See id. at 2302-03.144 422 U.S. 490 (1975).145 See id. at 502-08 (denying standing because of causation and redressability

problems). Justice Thomas purported to distinguish Warth on grounds of particularity, butthe plaintiffi in Warth had focused on at least one particular construction project that hadbeen frustrated by the defendant's challenged actions, whereas the plaintiff in NortheasternFlorida had not focused on any particular construction contracts that had been denied bythe defendant's challenged actions. See Northeastern F/orida, 113 S. Ct. at 2303-04. Warthand other standing cases involving race are discussed more fully in part HI, infra.

146 Compare Northeastern Florida, 113S. Ct. at2302-03 (discussing cases decided between1970 and 1989) with Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555 (1992). But cf Simon v.Eastern Ky. Welfare Rights Org., 426 U.S. 26, 40-46 (1976) (non-equal protection caseimposing earlier version of redressability requirement in 1976).

147 See Northeastern F/orida, 113 S. Ct. at 2303-04.

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Warth, Justice Thomas asserted, "In Warth, by contrast, there was noclaim that the construction association's members could not apply forvariances and building permits on the same basis as other firms; whatthe association objected to were the 'refusals by the town officials togrant variances and permits."' 148 There is little to commend the sug-gestion that an equal protection plaintiff has standing to challenge arule that prohibits the plaintiff from applying for a benefit, but not tochallenge a rule that requires the plaintiffs application to be rejectedon the merits. Prohibitions on discrimination apply with equal forcewhether the discrimination occurs at the application or the award-of-benefit stage.

Even if there were something special about abstract considerationof an application that made denial of such consideration enough towarrant an exception to the ordinary redressability requirement, Lu-jan was itself a consideration case. Nothing in the Endangered Spe-cies Act provision that the plaintiff wished to enforce required theoutcome of protecting endangered and threatened species. Rather,the Act required interagency consultation designed to reduce the like-lihood of harm to such species. 149 Accordingly, the Lujan plaintiff wasasking for consideration of its claim for the protection of endangeredand threatened species every bit as much as the plaintiff in NortheasternFlorida was asking for consideration of its claim for the award of a con-tract. In terms of redressability, the two cases appear to be completelyindistinguishable. It seems irrelevant that one case involved the EqualProtection Clause and that the other involved the Endangered SpeciesAct.

On a doctrinal level, the Supreme Court has recently taken greatpains to impose stringent pleading and proof requirements on plain-tiffs who wish to establish standing. The Court has required particu-larized pleading and proof that the plaintiffs asserted injury isproximate and imminent.150 In addition, the Court has imposed astringent redressability requirement on plaintiffs who wish to establishstanding, and it has read this requirement into the case-or-controversyprovision of Article III.151 These recent requirements seem designedto eliminate programmatic challenges to governmental actions-chal-lenges that could alter the level of overall law enforcement that execu-tive officials deem appropriate. Although the newly invigorated law ofstanding arguably constitutes a violation of separation-of-powers prin-ciples, entailing the judicial usurpation of legislative policymaking

148 Id. at 2304 (quoting Warth, 422 U.S. at 515) (emphasis added in Justice Thomas'squotation).

149 See Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 558 (1992) (quoting pertinentprovision of Endangered Species Act).

150 See supra parts H.A & ll.B.151 See supra text accompanying notes 124-25.

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functions, the Supreme Court has not given any explicit attention tothis problem. It has, however, chosen to ignore all of these new re-quirements in granting standing to the plaintiff in Northeastern Florida,and it has made little effort to distinguish the applicable precedents indoing so.


Doctrinal inconsistencies in the Supreme Court's law of standingare now so commonplace that they have become relatively uninterest-ing.152 And the insight that the Court manipulates the law of standingto advance judicial policy preferences has become more fatuous thanscandalous. 153 It is noteworthy, however, that among the policy pref-erences that the current Supreme Court has chosen to pursue with itsmanipulable law of standing is the policy of racial discrimination.Although Jim Crow laws are no longer tolerated, the white majoritystill secures for itself a disproportionately high percentage of societalresources at the expense of racial minorities. Whether one focuses ontangible assets-such as employment, income, property ownership,and the like-or more intangible prerogatives-such as health, safety,country club memberships, or chances of becoming a United StatesSenator-the majority is statistically better off than racialminorities. 54

Although individual victims are still likely to be granted standingto challenge discrete acts of discrimination, discrete acts no longerconstitute the major type of racial discrimination that exists in theUnited States.155 Rather than relying on atomistic acts of overt dis-crimination to secure a disproportionate share of societal resources,the contemporary majority now relies on systemic, structural, andprogrammatic techniques of differentiation that correlate with race.Even in the absence of overt discrimination, reliance on seeminglyneutral devices, such as standardized test scores, educational attain-ment, and residency requirements, can divert the flow of resourcestoward the majority.' 56 As a result, the contemporary problem of ra-cial discrimination has become statistical in nature.

152 See generally authorities cited supra note 12 (discussing inconsistencies in law of

standing).153 See generally supra note 12.

154 See SPANN, RACE AGAINST THE COURT, supra note 1, at 120-24 (documenting dispro-portionate statistical advantage that members of the majority have over members of racialminorities in the allocation of societal resources).

155 See id.156 See id. at 120-24, 140-43 (discussing systemic nature of contemporary racial


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The Supreme Court recognized the power of statistical discrimi-nation in its decision in Griggs v. Duke Power Co.,15 7 when it adopted adisparate impact standard for establishing unlawful racial discrimina-tion in employment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.158

In Washington v. Davis,159 however, the Court declined to adopt a simi-lar disparate impact standard for racial discrimination alleged to vio-late the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution,preferring instead a constitutional standard that requires a showing ofdiscriminatory intent, rather than mere discriminatory effect.160 Never-theless, statistically disparate impact remains relevant even to the con-stitutional standard of discriminatory intent because an unexplainedracially disparate impact provides strong evidence of a discriminatorymotive on the part of the person or entity responsible for the dispa-rate impact.' 6'

When one looks at the cases in which a legal challenge is lodgedagainst a systemic, structural, or programmatic practice, the SupremeCourt's standing decisions display a racially disparate impact. Whenthe plaintiff challenges a systemic practice that adversely affects theinterests of the white majority, such as an affirmative action program,the Court tends to uphold the plaintiff's standing. But when theplaintiff challenges a practice that adversely affects the interests of ra-cial minorities, such as a pattern of restrictive zoning, tax subsidiza-tion, or police misconduct, the Court tends to deny the plaintiff'sstanding.

The degree of disparate impact that emerges from the Court'sracial decisions is sufficient to prove racial discrimination under thestatutory standard the Court adopted in Griggs for Title VII pur-poses.162 Moreover, there is also sufficient evidence of the Court's dis-criminatory intent to establish a constitutional violation under theequal protection standard of Washington v. Davis, the Court's civilrights decisions fortify the inference of discriminatory intent thatflows from the racially disparate impact of the Court's standing deci-

'57 401 U.S. 424 (1971).158 See id. at 429-30.

159 426 U.S. 229 (1976).160 See id. at 238-48.

161 See id. at 242 (stating that disparate impact can evidence discriminatory intent); seealso Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986) (permitting inference of discriminatory intentfrom racially correlated use of peremptory challenges by prosecutor); Gomillion v.Lightfoot, 864 U.S. 339 (1960) (permitting inference of discriminatory intent from raciallycorrelated election districts); Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 351 (1886) (permitting infer-ence of discriminatory intent from racially correlated administration of laundry licensingstatute). But cf. SPANN, RACE AGArNsr THE COURT, supra note 1, at 60-66 (deconstructingdistinction between intent and effects).

162 See infra part I.A.

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sions.163 In sum, the Supreme Court's law of standing fails both thestatutory and constitutional standards prohibiting racialdiscrimination.

As a practical matter, of course, neither statutory nor constitu-tional prohibitions on racial discrimination apply to the SupremeCourt. Realistically, there is no governmental body that possesses theinstitutional power to enforce the Constitution against the Court.1 64

Moreover, the Court has held that the" Court itself possesses the powerto render final and dispositive interpretations of the Constitution.165

As the final constitutional arbiter, the Court is the ideal governmentalinstitution to accomplish the majoritarian task of diverting societal re-sources away from racial minorities in a manner that benefits the ma-jority. The Court can announce legal prohibitions on discriminationand enforce them against the other branches of government in a waythat suggests a societal commitment to racial equality, but in the pro-cess of so doing, the Court can allocate resources in a way that over-rides the very equality that its opinions pronounce. Not only is thatwhat the Supreme Court has done with its racially discriminatory lawof standing, but that is the function that the Supreme Court has his-torically served in American government.1 66

A. Standing and Disparate Impact

In Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 167 the Supreme Court held that em-ployment practices governing hiring, discharge, promotion, and con-ditions of employment violate the Title VII prohibitions onemployment discrimination if such practices have a racially disparateimpact. 68 The Court chose to adopt a discriminatory effects testrather than a discriminatory intent test in order to prevent the whitemajority from perpetuating its past advantage through prospective ra-cial neutrality. 69 Accordingly, employment practices constitute pro-

163 See infra part III.B.164 In theory, the President and Congress-both of whom take an oath to uphold the

Constitution-could use political methods to enforce the Constitution against theSupreme Court. Arguably, the Civil War and the subsequent enactment of the FourteenthAmendment granting citizenship to former black slaves constituted political correction ofa constitutional error made by the Court in Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393(1857) (holding that blacks are not citizens within the meaning of United States Constitu-tion). However, even accepting that such corrections are motivated by constitutionalrather than political concerns, political corrections are likely to be few and far between.Cf SPANN, RACE AGAINST THE COURT, supra note 1, at 14-17 (discussing the political lever-age that the representative branches have over the Supreme Court).

165 See supra note 6.166 This is the thesis that is developed in SPANN, RACE AGAINST THE COURT, supra note

1.167 401 U.S. 424 (1971).168 See Griggs, 401 U.S. at 429-31.169 See id. at 429-30.

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hibited racial discrimination under Title VII if they have a raciallydisparate impact, regardless of the employer's intent. 7 0

Interestingly, the Supreme Court's standing decisions have such adisparate impact. In cases in which the plaintiff claims to have beenharmed by a systemic practice that has a racially discriminatory im-pact, rather than by an isolated act of racial discrimination, theSupreme Court has typically denied standing if the plaintiff was amember of a racial minority group, but has granted standing if theplaintiff was white.

1. Minority Programmatic Challenges

When minority plaintiffs challenge contemporary racial discrimi-nation, their challenges tend to take the form of a programmatic at-tack on a "pattern and practice" of official conduct in theadministration of a governmental program. Although the govern-mental program is often facially neutral, the minority plaintiffs typi-cally allege that the program has had a disparate impact that isdisproportionately adverse to racial minorities. Frequently, the mi-nority plaintiffs assert that the program at issue is discriminatory bydesign as well as in effect. 17'

Warth v. Seldin provides an example of a programmatic challengeto official conduct filed by minority plaintiffs. There, an array of blackand latino plaintiffs filed a class action challenging a municipal zon-ing policy that was alleged to have been racially discriminatory both inintent and effect. 172 The plaintiffs in Warth were denied standing be-cause they failed to satisfy the third-party redressability test' 73 that the

170 The Supreme Court subsequently reformulated its disparate impact test in a waythat made disparate impact considerably more difficult to establish. See, e.g., Wards CovePacking Co. v. Atonio, 490 U.S. 642 (1989) (imposing stringent new proof requirementson plaintiffs seeking to establish disparate impact of subjective standards used in employ-ment); Watson v. Fort Worth Bank & Trust, 487 U.S. 977, 994 (1988) (plurality decisioncontaining dicta favoring increase in plaintiff's burden of proof). These decisions, as wellas other restrictive Supreme Court decisions interpreting Title VII, were subsequently over-ruled by Congress in the Civil Rights Act of 1991, Pub. L. No. 102-166, 105 Stat. 1071(codified as amended in scattered sections of 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e-16 (Supp. V1993)). See generally Symposium, The Civil Rights Act of 1991: Theory and Practice, 68 NOTREDAmE L. Ruv. 911 (1993); Note, The Civil Rights Act of 1991 and Less Discriminatory Alterna-tives in Disparate Impact Litigation, 106 HARv. L. REV. 1621 (1993); Note, The Civil Rights Actof 1991: The Business Necessity Standard, 106 HAIv. L. REV. 896 (1993).

171 Although the allegation of discriminatory intent is superfluous for present pur-poses, it does support the inference of discriminatory intent that can be drawn from dispa-rate impact, as is discussed infra in part IILB.

172 SeeWarti v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490,493-98 (1975). Note that the array of Warth plain-tiffs also included some presumably non-minority plaintiffs who wished to construct lowincome housing, live in an integrated community, and avoid the tax increases that theyalleged would result from the challenged restrictive zoning practices. See id. Nevertheless,the nature of the case is such that it can safely be classified'as a minority plaintiff case.

173 See id. at 504-08.

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Court introduced in Linda R.S. v. Richard D.174 and later developedwith redoubled stringency in National Wildlife Federation and Lujan.'75

Warth also contained dicta linking redressability to the Article III case-or-controversy requirement, 76 which the Court subsequently turnedinto holding in Lujan.177 Although the Court did not find the equallyserious third-party redressability problem to be a basis for denyingstanding in Northeastern I/orida,178 it did find the problem sufficient todeny standing in Warth. In a very real sense, therefore, the plaintiffsin Warth were denied standing because of the programmatic nature oftheir challenge to a systemic zoning practice.

Allen v. Wright 79 is another example of the denial of standing tomaintain a programmatic challenge to systemic discrimination. In Al-len, the parents of minority school children filed a national class ac-tion challenging a pattern and practice of decisions made by theInternal Revenue Service (IRS) that, in effect, granted tax subsidies tosegregated private schools.' 80 These "subsidies" allegedly violated theInternal Revenue Code and frustrated the plaintiffs' efforts to secureintegrated educational opportunities for their children.' 8 ' The plain-tiffs asserted that the IRS had acquiesced in misrepresentations con-cerning the nondiscrimination policies of many private schools byrefusing to take any action to detect false certifications of nondiscrimi-nation, in spite of the fact that the Internal Revenue Code and IRSregulations clearly prohibited segregated schools from acquiring tax-exempt status.

The plaintiffs argued that by granting tax-exempt status-and theconcomitant ability to receive tax-deductible contributions-to segre-gated schools, the IRS was both fostering support for segregatedschools and interfering with applicable school desegregation plans.' 82

After again referring to the Article III case-or-controversy require-ment, the Court held that the plaintiffs lacked standing because theyhad not satisfied the causation and redressability requirements estab-lished in cases such as Warth, and that their "injury" was a mere "gen-

174 410 U.S. 614, 614-19 (1973) (mother lacks standing to seek criminal prosecution offather for nonpayment of child support because prosecution would punish father butmight not result in payment of child support).

175 See supra notes 34-45 and accompanying text (discussing National Wildlife Federationand Lujan).

176 See Warth, 422 U.S. at 498-501 (containing Article In redressability dicta).177 See Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 571-78 (1992) (holding "citizen

suit" provision of Endangered Species Act unconstitutional due to Article H redressabilityproblems). Lujan is discussed more fully supra, notes 39-45 and accompanying text.

178 See supra part II.D (discussing redressability problems in Northeastern F/brida).179 468 U.S. 737 (1984).180 Id. at 739-43.181 See id.182 See id. at 739-47.

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eralized grievance" whose judicial resolution would implicate theCourt in separation-of-powers problems. 183 The Court rejected boththe argument that the plaintiffs were injured by the federal govern-ment's identification with and financing of segregated education, 84

and the argument that the plaintiffs were injured in their efforts tosecure integrated educational facilities for their children. The Courtfound these alleged injuries to be too abstract and speculative.' 85

Once again, the problem with the claim asserted in Allen v. Wrightappears to have been its programmatic nature. And once again theCourt's denial of standing seems to be directly at odds with the North-eastern Florida decision, which flatly disregarded similar problems of anabstract and speculative injury.

In a series of four police and prosecutorial misconduct cases de-cided between 1974 and 1983, various groups of inner-city minorityresidents sought injunctive relief to prevent the recurrence of allegedpatterns and practices of official misconduct that were claimed tohave violated the civil rights of the minority residents. In the 1974case, O'Shea v. Littleton,18 6 seventeen minority and two white residentsof Cairo, Illinois filed a class action alleging that local police officers,prosecutors, and magistrates intentionally discriminated against mi-norities and others who were engaged in civil rights activities, and thatthey failed to enforce the laws adequately against whites who victim-ized racial minorities.

The plaintiffs offered evidence of specific instances in which indi-vidual named plaintiffs had been subjected to abusive bond-setting,sentencing, and jury-fee practices.' 8 7 Although the Court did not ex-pressly use the term "standing,"188 it dismissed the suit for failure todemonstrate an Article III injury.189 The Court held that the allegedpast abuses did not establish ajusticiable claim because there was noevidence that those abuses would be repeated against the same plain-tiffs in the future. This is a curious response to a class-action com-plaint that alleges a pattern and practice of ongoing misconduct. Itdoes, however, seem to rest on a blend of stringent standing and ripe-

183 See id. at 750-53. Although the Court devoted significant attention to the genera-lized nature of the plaintiffs' alleged injury, it treated the generalized nature of the injuryas a prudential rather than a constitutional problem. See id. at 750-51. I have argued else-where that the Court's alignment of prudential and constitutional tests is backwards. SeeSpann, Expository Justice, supra note 1, at 632-47 (arguing that zone-of-interest rather thaninjury test should be viewed as constitutionally compelled).

184 See Allen, 468 U.S. at 752-56.185 Id. at 756762.186 414 U.S. 488 (1974).187 Id. at 490-93.188 The majority opinion referred to "standing" only twice, both times in footnotes. See

id. at 493 n.2, 494 n.3.189 See id. at 493.

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ness concerns that is reminiscent of the Court's decisions in NationalWildlife Federation and Lujan.90

In Spomer v. Littleton,'9 a companion case to O'Shea, the Courtremanded the action, which the same plaintiffs had filed against theState's Attorney, suggesting that the action was moot with respect tothe original State's Attorney, who had been replaced in a recent elec-tion, and unripe with respect to the new State's Attorney, who had notdone anything to harm the plaintiffs.192 Obviously, the Court's deter-mination that the injury alleged in a pattem-and-practice case can beboth moot and unripe makes it difficult to maintain such suits; thewindow through which an injury that qualifies for standing purposes ispermitted to pass is very narrow.'93 In 1976 the O'Shea holding wasreaffirmed in Rizzo v. Goode,194 a case in which a class of Philadelphiaresidents filed two suits against the Mayor and the Police Commis-sioner of Philadelphia, alleging a pattern and practice of racially dis-criminatory and abusive police misconduct. 95 Once again, the Courtfound that the plaintiffs had not sustained an Article III injury, for thereasons stated in O'Shea.'9 6

In 1981 the Court decided City of Los Angeles v. Lyons,197 where aminority victim of a "chokehold" applied by a Los Angeles police of-ficer sued to enjoin continued implementation of a police depart-ment policy that allegedly authorized the use of chokeholds in anunlawful and racially discriminatory manner.198 Citing O'Shea andRizzo, the Court held that the plaintiff suffered no Article III injury.199

Once again, the Court's unmistakable hostility to programmatic po-lice misconduct challenges stands in marked contrast to the Court'sreceptivity to the equally programmatic affirmative action challengethat it permitted in Northeastern Florida.

190 See supra notes 34-45 and accompanying text (discussing National Wildlife Federationand Lujan).

191 414 U.S. 514 (1974).192 Id. at 519-23.193 It is also interesting to note that the basis of the Court's determination of moomess

in Spomer-that is, the election of a new prosecutor who might not continue the allegedabuses-was very similar to the reason that Northeastern Florida appears to have beenmoot-that is, the "election" of a new affirmative action program that might not continuethe alleged abuses. Nevertheless, in Spomer the minority plaintiff was denied relief onmootness grounds, but in Northeastern Forida, the white plaintiff was not. Compare Spomer,414 U.S. at 519-23 with Northeastern Fla. Chapter of the Associated Gen. Contractors v.City ofJacksonville, 113 S. Ct. 2297, 2300-01 (1993).

194 423 U.S. 362 (1976).195 See id. at 366-70.196 See id. at 371-73.197 461 U.S. 95 (1983).198 See id. at 97-100; cf. id. at 115-19 (Marshall, J., dissenting) (emphasizing racially

discriminatory nature of alleged chokehold policy).199 Id. at 101-04.

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2. Majority Programmatic Challenges

When racial discrimination claims are asserted by members of thewhite majority, they tend to take the form of programmatic challengesto affirmative action plans that have been voluntarily adopted, agreedto as part of a consent decree, or imposed as part of a remedial judi-cial order. Northeastern Florida exemplifies this type of challenge,which has become ubiquitous with the increased political conserva-tism of the Supreme Court.

A challenge to an affirmative action program is programmatic inthe same way that a minority challenge to a pattern and practice ofofficial conduct is programmatic. Although a plaintiff challenging anaffirmative action plan is at least nominally interested in personal re-lief, it is the systemic nature of the challenge that gives the case itssocietal importance. To suggest that affirmative action challenges areimportant because of the particularized impact that they will have onthe plaintiff is like suggesting that Brown v. Board of Education was im-portant because it said that Linda Brown could attend a desegregatedelementary school in Topeka, Kansas.2 00

The frequency with which the Supreme Court considers affirma-tive action challenges is testimony to the systemic significance withwhich those challenges are vested. It appears that the Supreme Courtgrants certiorari in those cases so that it can formulate and announceits evolving policy concerning the appropriate nature and scope ofaffirmative action programs. Therefore, it is unsurprising that theCourt has entertained challenges to affirmative action programs evenwhen they have become moot as to the plaintiff filing the chal-lenge,201 and even when the affirmative action conflict that the Courtwished to address has had no effect on the plaintiff whatsoever. 202

200 See Brown v. Board of Educ., 347 U.S. 483, 486 n.1 (1954).201 See Northeastern Florida, 113 S. Ct. at 2301 (rejecting claim of moomess despite re-

peal and replacement of challenged program). The moomess issue in Northeastern Floridais discussed more fully above. See supra part I.B. But seeDeFunis v. Odegaard, 416 U.S. 312,315-20 (1974) (rejecting affirmative action challenge on grounds of moomess).

202 See Firefighters Local Union No. 1784 v. Stotts, 467 U.S. 561 (1984) (resolving con-flict between affirmative action and seniority where no such conflict existed, because allaffected workers had same seniority and pertinent decisions were made alphabetically--afact that the Court did not disclose in its opinion); see also Girardeau A. Spann, SimpleJustice, 73 GEO. LJ. 1041, 1046, 1068 (1985) (discussing alphabetical rather than senioritybasis of Stotts). New York Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse has suggestedthat the present Supreme Court has been so anxious to overrule liberal precedents in caseshaving both direct and indirect racial overtones that the Court has repeatedly grantedreview in cases having procedural or technical problems that will make it difficult for theCourt to issue useful rulings on the merits of those cases. See Linda Greenhouse, Detours onthe Road to Legal Precedents, N.Y. TMES, Feb. 12, 1995, § 4, at 3 (discussing questionablegrants of review in Missouri v. Jenkins, a school desegregation case, Adarand Constructors v.Pena, an affirmative action case, and Anderson v. Green, a welfare restriction case).

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Since 1974, when the Court began considering affirmative actioncases outside of the school desegregation context, it has decidedeighteen racial affirmative action cases.20 3 Fourteen of these casesraised constitutional challenges to an affirmative action programunder the Equal Protection Clause.20 4 Four of the cases concernedstatutory challenges under Title VII.2 0 5 Eleven of the challenges arosein the employment context, disputing the allocation of contracts, pro-motions, or layoffs.206 Other challenges have been made to educa-tional affirmative action programs,20 7 remedial voting rights plans, 208

and broadcast license preference programs.20 9

The Court's resolution of the merits of these affirmative actionchallenges has not been uniform. Sometimes the Court has declinedto reach the merits;210 sometimes the Court has upheld the chal-

203 The 18 affirmative action cases are Miller v. Johnson, 115 S. Ct. 2475 (1995);

United States v. Hays, 115 S. Ct. 2431 (1995); Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena, 115 S. Ct.2097 (1995); Shaw v. Reno, 113 S. Ct. 2816 (1993); Northeastern Fla. Chapter of the Asso-ciated Gen. Contractors v. City ofJacksonville, 113 S. Ct. 2297 (1993); Metro Broadcasting,Inc. v. FCC, 497 U.S. 547 (1990), overruled by Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena, 115 S. Ct.2097 (1995); City of Richmond v.J.A. Croson Co., 488 U.S. 469 (1989);Johnson v. Trans-portation Agency, 480 U.S. 616 (1987); United States v. Paradise, 480 U.S. 149 (1987);Local No. 93, Int'l Ass'n of Firefighters v. City of Cleveland, 478 U.S. 501 (1986); Local 28of the Sheet Metal Workers' Int'l Ass'n v. EEOC, 478 U.S. 421 (1986); Wygant v. JacksonBd. of Educ., 476 U.S. 267 (1986); Firefighters Local Union No. 1784 v. Stotts, 467 U.S. 561(1984); Fullilove v. Klutznick, 448 U.S. 448 (1980); United Steel Workers v. Weber, 443U.S. 193 (1979); Regents of the Univ. of Cal. v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978); UnitedJewishOrgs. v. Carey, 430 U.S. 144 (1977); DeFunis v. Odegaard, 416 U.S. 312 (1974).

The Court has also decided a series of cases under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Pub.L. No. 89-110, 79 Stat. 445 (codified as amended at 42 U.S.C. §§ 1971, 1973 to 1973bb-1(1988)). See, e.g., Johnson v. De Grandy, 114 S. Ct. 2647 (1994); Holder v. Hall, 114 S. Ct.2581 (1994); Voinovich v. Quilter, 113 S. Ct. 1149 (1993); Growe v. Emison, 113 S. Ct. 1075(1993). Although these cases technically constitute affirmative action cases, because theydecrease white voting strength in order to enhance minority voting strength, the votingrights cases that have been decided on statutory rather than constitutional grounds arenumerous, complex, and beyond the scope of the present discussion.

204 The 14 cases raising constitutional challenges to affirmative action plans are Miller,

Hayr, Adarand; Shaw, Northeastern Flonida Metro Broadcasting Croson; Paradise Sheet MetalWorkers; Wygant Fullilove Bakke, United Jewish Organizations, and DeFunis.205 The four Title VII cases are Johnson; International Ass'n of Firefighter, Firefighters Local

Union No. 1784; and United Steel Workers.206 The 11 cases that arose in an employment context are Adarand Northeastem Florida;

Croson; Johnson; Paradise, International Ass'n of Firefighters, Sheet Metal Workerr, Wygant;Firefighters Local Union No. 1784; Fullilove and United Steel Workers.

207 The two cases that arose in an educational context are Bakke and DeFunis.208 The four cases that arose in a remedial voting rights context are Miller, Hays;, Shar,

and United Jewish Organizations.209 The case that arose in the context of a preferential broadcast license program is

Metro Broadcasting.210 The Court dismissed one constitutional challenge to a law school affirmative action

program on mootness grounds rather than ruling on the merits. See DeFunis v. Odegaard,416 U.S. 312 (1974). The Court dismissed one challenge to a voter reapportionment planfor lack of standing. See United States v. Hays, 115 S. Ct. 2431 (1995). In addition, theCourt addressed only the issue of standing in Northeastern Forida, remanding the case for


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lenged plans;21' and sometimes the Court has invalidated the chal-lenged plans.2 12 However, the Court's resolution of the plaintiffs'standing has been strikingly consistent. In virtually every affirmativeaction case, the white plaintiff has been accorded standing to chal-lenge the affirmative action program at issue.213

3. Racially Disparate Impact

In cases in which the plaintiff claims to have been harmed by asystemic practice that has had a racially discriminatory impact, ratherthan by an isolated act of racial discrimination, the Supreme Court'stendency has been to grant standing if the plaintiff was white or waschallenging a practice alleged to have adversely affected the interestsof the white majority. On the other hand, it has tended to deny stand-ing if the plaintiff was a member of a racial minority group or waschallenging a practice that was alleged to have adversely affected the

resolution of the merits. SeeNortheastern Fla. Chapter of the Associated Gen. Contractorsv. City ofJacksonville, 113 S. Ct. 2297, 2305 (1993).

211 The Court upheld the challenged affirmative action programs in five of the consti-tutional cases: Metro Broadcasting Paradise Sheet Metal Workers, Fullilove; and United JewishOrganizations. In addition, the Court upheld affirmative action plans in two Title VII cases:International Ass'n of Firefighters and United Steel Workers.

212 The Court invalidated the affirmative action programs presented in six of the con-stitutional cases: Mille, Adarand; Shaw Croson; Wygant and Bakke In addition, in Firefight-ers Local Union No. 1784 v. Stotts, 467 U.S. 561 (1984), the Court rejected an expansiveinterpretation of a Title VII consent decree in order to protect seniority rights, which theCourt found to be entitled to greater protection under Title VII than race. See id. at 572-73.

213 The only case challenging the constitutionality of an affirmative action plan inwhich the Court dismissed the white plaintiffs' case for lack of standing was United States v.Hays, 115 S. Ct. 2431 (1995), where the Court found that the plaintiffs lacked standingbecause they did not live in the voting district whose reapportionment they had chal-lenged. However, in the companion case of Miller v.Johnson, 115 S. Ct. 2475 (1995), theCourt upheld the standing of white plaintiffs to make the same challenge to the reappor-tionment of the district in which they did reside. This renders the standing restriction inHays a technicality rather than a meaningful impediment to the ability of white plaintiffs tochallenge affirmative action reapportionment plans. The Supreme Court mentionedstanding in only four of the remaining affirmative action challenges. In Northeastern Flor-ida, standing was the central issue before the Court. However, in the factually similar Fulli-love decision, the Court mentioned standing only once, in a foomote. SeeFullilove, 448 480-81 n.71. Ironically, the Fullilove footnote stressed that the plaintiffs had identifiedthree specific examples of contracts that the plaintiff's members would have been awardedbut for the affirmative action program. See id. No such allegation was made in NortheasternForida. See supra text accompanying notes 90-92 (discussing plaintiff's failure to identifyparticular contracts that would have been awarded to plaintiff s members absent minorityset-aside). In United Jewish Organizations v. Carey, a concurring opinion made a generalreference to standing in one sentence of one footnote. See UnitedJewish Orgs., 430 U.S. at180 n.* (Stewart, J., concurring in thejudgment). The most extensive standing discussionis contained in Bakke, in which the Court devoted a three paragraph footnote to the issue.See Bakke, 438 U.S. at 280-81 n.14. Justice Thomas relies heavily on this footnote in hisNortheastern Korida opinion. See Northeastern Forida, 113 S. Ct. at 2302-03. Although theSupreme Court did not discuss the issue of standing in DeFunis, it did dismiss the case onmootness grounds. See DeFunis, 416 U.S. at 315-20.

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interests of a racial minority group. In all six of the cases referred toabove, in which a minority plaintiff asserted a programmatic challengeto a pattern and practice of discriminatory conduct that adversely af-fected a racial minority, the minority plaintiff was denied standing ongrounds relating to the generalized nature of the asserted injury orproblems relating to the proximity, imminence, or redressability ofthe injury.214 However, in seventeen of the eighteen affirmative ac-tion cases referred to above, in which a white plaintiff asserted aprogrammatic challenge to a pattern and practice of conduct that ad-versely affected the white majority, the plaintiff was granted standingdespite the generalized nature of the asserted injury and despiteproblems relating to proximity, imminence, or redressability.2 15

The correlation between race and standing may not be perfect.For example, in the affirmative action cases-other than NortheasternFlorida-in which the plaintiff was granted standing to maintain achallenge to an affirmative action plan, standing was rarely focusedupon as an issue in the case.2 16 As a result, it may be unfair to com-pare cases in which standing was tacitly assumed and cases in whichstanding was expressly denied; the Court may simply not have focusedon the issue in the tacit standing cases.

Even assuming, however, that the Court's focus on the standingissue was sporadic, the Court's inconsistent emphasis on standing mayfortify the proposition that the Court is making discriminatory use ofthe doctrine. The Court's selective attention to standing may estab-lish that, despite their doctrinal similarities, white plaintiff pattern-and-practice cases are not even considered to be cases in which stand-ing could realistically pose a significant problem, whereas minorityplaintiff pattern-and-practice cases are cases in which standing can befatal.217

Most of the Court's affirmative action cases were decided before1990, when the Court began to increase standing requirements inprogrammatic challenge cases, thereby rendering the earlier affirma-tive action challenge cases arguably inapposite.218 However, once theCourt did begin to increase the stringency of its standing require-ments, Northeastern Florida indicates that standing was recognized to be

214 See supra part I.A..215 See supra part IIIA2.216 See supra note 213 (discussing limited consideration of standing issue in affirmative

action challenge cases).217 The cursory nature of the consideration accorded the issue of standing, even when

the issue is addressed in the affirmative action challenge cases, lends some support to thisview. See supra note 213 (discussing limited consideration of standing issue in affirmativeaction challenge cases).

218 See supra notes 34-45 and accompanying text (discussing post-1990 standing deci-sions in National Wildlife Federation and Lujan).

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an issue in cases challenging affirmative action programs, but thatstanding for white plaintiffs would nevertheless be upheld.21 9

Another factor that may dilute the correlation between race andstanding stems from the cases that I have not discussed. I have fo-cused upon the pattern-and-practice race cases in which minorityplaintiffs were denied standing, but I have not mentioned the cases inwhich standing was granted-such as the many school desegregationcases in which the Court routinely assumed standing for minorityschool children.220 Although those cases are technically ones inwhich individual plaintiffs challenged discrete acts of discriminationcommitted through the denial of particular educational benefits, real-istically the cases are institutional, systemic, programmatic, pattern-and-practice cases because segregated school systems must be inte-grated in order to provide the plaintiffs any meaningful relief. Thismakes the school desegregation cases seem as relevant as the affirma-tive action cases in which standing was also tacitly granted.

Although standing for black plaintiffs was traditionally assumedin the early school desegregation cases, if one focuses more preciselyon cases that have been decided since the Court began to use stand-ing as a restrictive rather than an expansive doctrine, a racially dispa-rate impact once again emerges. Most of the school desegregationcases in which the Court has tacitly granted standing were decidedbefore the Supreme Court began its vigorous reformulation of restric-

219 Cf. United States v. Hays, 115 S. Ct. 2431 (1995) (denying standing to white plain-tiffs in Voting Rights Act case who did not live in challenged district). But see Miller v.Johnson, 115 S. Ct. 2475 (1995) (upholding standing of white plaintiff in Voting Rights Actcase who did live in challenged district).

220 Brown v. Board of Educ. (Brown 1), 347 U.S. 483 (1954), and Brown v. Board ofEduc. (Brown 17), 349 U.S. 294, 301 (1955), required race-conscious remedies in order toachieve the desegregation of previously segregated school systems "with all deliberatespeed." Subsequent cases emphasized that contemplated desegregation strategies had tobe effective in order to be acceptable. See, e.g., United States v. Montgomery County Bd. ofEduc., 395 U.S. 225, 235-36 (1969); Green v. County Sch. Bd., 391 U.S. 430, 439 (1968);Griffin v. County Sch. Bd., 377 U.S. 218, 233-34 (1964). In Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklen-burg Board of Education, 402 U.S. 1 (1971), the Court explicitly authorized the use ofrace-based pupil assignments as a permissible remedy for prior constitutional violations.See id. at 27-28. ChiefJustice Burger, writing for a unanimous Court, also endorsed-albeitreluctantly-the use of mathematical ratios reflecting racial proportionality in the schooldistrict population as targets in formulating desegregation plans to remedy constitutionalviolations, and did so in the face of a congressional statute that arguably prohibited mak-ing pupil assignments for the purpose of achieving racial balance. See id. at 16-18, 22-25.

In a companion case, North Carolina State Board of Education v. Swann, 402 U.S. 43(1971), the Court held that a prohibition on race-based pupil assignments in favor of col-orblind pupil assignments was also unconstitutional because it interfered with the schoolboard's ability to fashion an effective remedy for past segregation. See id. at 45-46. In eachof these cases, the Supreme Court assumed without discussion that the plaintiffs had stand-ing to maintain the desegregation suits.

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ive standing rules in 1990.221 Now that standing has become a morefrequent tool for Supreme Court policymaking, restrictive standingcases such as Allen v. Wright are more representative of the Court'spresent posture toward minority plaintiff, programmatic, school de-segregation challenges,222 whereas permissive standing cases such asNortheastern lorida are more representative of the Court's present pos-ture toward white plaintiff, programmatic, affirmative actionchallenges.

The Supreme Court sometimes grants standing to a minorityplaintiff after having denied standing to a similar plaintiff in a priorcase. For example, although the Court denied standing to minorityplaintiffs in Warth v. Seldin?23 when they challenged racially restrictivezoning practices, two years later it granted standing to similarly-situ-ated minority plaintiffs in Village of Arlington Heights v. MetropolitanHousing Development Corp.,224 despite the apparent lack of distinctionbetween the two cases.2 25 In addition, there is undoubtedly a host ofother race discrimination cases that can be fairly characterized as

221 See supra text accompanying notes 34-45 (discussing post-1990 standing decisions inNational Wildlife Federation and Lujan).

222 See supra text accompanying notes 179-85 (discussing Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737(1984)). But see United States v. Fordice, 112 S. Ct. 2727 (1992) (holding that Mississippicollege system with racially identifiable schools remained dual rather than unitary despiteracially unrestricted choice given to students in selecting schools). It is worth noting that,in Fordice, Justice Thomas interpreted the majority opinion as permitting the intentionalperpetuation of historically black colleges. See id. at 2744 (Thomas, J., concurring).

223 422 U.S. 490, 502-18 (1975).224 429 U.S. 252, 260-64 (1977).225 The only difference between Arlington Heights and Warth seems to be that Arlington

Heights concerned a suburb of Chicago, see Arlington Heights, 429 U.S. at 254-60, whereasWarth concerned a suburb of Rochester, see Warth, 422 U.S. at 493-98. The Arlington Heightsopinion attempted a half-hearted distinction of Warth by focusing on a particular housingproject contemplated by one of the plaintiffs in Arlington Heights. See Arlington Heights, 429U.S. at 260-64. Warth too involved a particular housing project, but the Warth Court simplydisregarded that project, speculating, without any basis in the record, that it might havebecome stale during the course of the litigation. See Warth, 422 U.S. at 514-17.

The Arlington Heights Court's treatment of the Article III case-or-controversy issue waseven more remarkable. With respect to the newly articulated nonspeculativeness, causa-tion, and redressability requirements, Justice Powell's opinion stated:

An injunction [the requested relief] would not, of course, guarantee thatLincoln Green [the contemplated project] will be built. MHDC [the plain-tiff] would still have to secure financing, qualify for federal subsidies, andcarry through with construction. But all housing developments are subjectto some extent to similar uncertainties. When a project is as detailed andspecific as Lincoln Green, a court is not required to engage in undue spec-ulation as a predicate for finding that the plaintiff has the requisite per-sonal stake in the controversy. MHDC has shown an injury to itself that is"likely to be redressed by a favorable decision."

Arlington Heights, 429 U.S. at 261-62 (footnote omitted) (quoting Simon v. Eastern Ky. Wel-fare Rights Org., 426 U.S. 26, 38 (1976)). The whole point of Warth was, of course, that theCourt was required to engage in precisely such speculation in order to uphold a plaintiff'sstanding. See Warth, 422 U.S. at 498-517.

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programmatic and in which the Court proceeded to decide the mer-its, without ever considering standing to be an issue. For example, inSwain v. Alabama226 and Batson v. Kentucky,227 the Court consideredthe constitutionality of racially motivated uses of peremptory chal-lenges in criminal cases without discussing standing, and in McClesky v.Kemp,228 the Court likewise considered the merits of the plaintiffsclaim that the death penalty was being implemented in a racially dis-criminatory manner without treating standing as an issue.

One could attempt to dispute the relevance of many of theprogrammatic cases in which the Court reached the merits withoutaddressing the issue of standing. In McClesky, for example, the reasonthe Court offered for rejecting the plaintiff's discrimination claim onthe merits was that the claim was a systemic claim rather than a claimof particularized discrimination, thereby making the case more consis-tent than inconsistent with my present thesis.229 Moreover, as hasbeen discussed, it is unclear how much weight should be given to acase in which the Court upholds standing without recognizing stand-ing to be an issue, precisely because the Court failed to focus on theprogrammatic nature of the challenge that was before it.2

30 Rather

than dispute the relevance of the tacit standing cases, however, itseems preferable to concede that the Court has sometimes decidedprogrammatic discrimination cases on the merits even when the plain-tiffs were minority plaintiffs.

Even if the correlation between race and standing is not perfect,it does exist. In light of the uniform success that white plaintiffs havehad in establishing standing to challenge affirmative action programs,compared to the frequent lack of success that minority plaintiffs havehad in pursuing their programmatic challenges, it is difficult to imag-ine anyone seriously disputing the fact that the Court is much morelikely to reject a programmatic racial discrimination challenge onstanding grounds when the plaintiff is a minority plaintiff than whenthe plaintiff is white. And that correlation is certainly sufficient to cre-ate a suspicion of discriminatory treatment that the Supreme Courtwould be expected to explain away if it wished to refute charges ofdiscrimination.

226 380 U.S. 202, 221-24 (1965) (rejecting on merits claim that discriminatory use ofperemptory challenges violates Equal Protection Clause).

227 476 U.S. 79, 93-98 (1986) (upholding on merits claim that discriminatory use ofperemptory challenges violates Equal Protection Clause).

228 481 U.S. 279, 291-99 (1987) (rejecting on merits claim that Georgia death penaltystatute was discriminatorily applied more frequently to those convicted of killing whitevictims than to those convicted of killing black victims).

229 See McClesky, 481 U.S. at 292-97.230 See supra notes 216-17 and accompanying text.

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4. Exacerbating Rationales

In Northeastern F/orida, Justice Thomas demonstrated an awarenessof the decisions that have created a racially correlated disparate im-pact in the law of standing to maintain programmatic challenges toofficial actions. He twice cited Allen v. Wright,231 relied heavily on Re-gents of the University of California v. Bakke,232 and attempted to distin-guish Warth v. Seldin.233 Nevertheless, Justice Thomas's overall effortto explain the Court's departure from its recent standing precedentswas minimal. His reading of Bakke as the controlling precedent simplydisregarded the Court's post-1990 standing jurisprudence-which hisopinion purported to follow234-and relied on a simplistic and unten-able interpretation of the case.2 35 Moreover, Justice Thomas's prof-fered distinction of Warth seems more silly than serious, 236 andborders on dishonesty.2 37 In the final analysis, the cavalier treatmentthat he accorded the issue of standing in Northeastern Florida seems toexacerbate rather than ameliorate the racially disparate impact of theCourt's standing decisions.

Justice Thomas began the standing portion of Northeastern Floridawith a lack of care that conveys an absence of concern about the ra-cially charged dimension of his undertaking. In his statement of thecontrolling law, Justice Thomas conflated the "injury in fact" and the"legal interest" tests for standing as if they were identical, rather thandramatically different. 238 This reveals an incomplete understandingof the shift induced by the Administrative Procedure Act from the pre-New Deal "legal interest" regime to the post-New Deal "injury-in-fact"approach to standing.2 39

231 See Northeastern Fla. Chapter of the Associated Gen. Contractors v. City ofJackson-ville, 113 S. Ct. 2297, 2301-02 (1993) (citing Allen v. Wright, 469 U.S. 737, 750, 752(1984)).232 See id. at 2302-03.233 See id. at 2303-04.234 See id. at 2301-02 (citing Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 112 S. Ct. 2130, 2136

(1992), as stating applicable law of standing).235 See id. at 2302-03 (discussing Bakke without reference to redressability

requirement).236 See id. at 2303-04. Justice Thomas attempted to distinguish Warth by suggesting that

the Warth plaintiffs lacked standing because they alleged merely that their applications forzoning variances were denied on racial grounds. If they had instead alleged that their appli-cations were rejected on racial grounds, as did the plaintiffs in Northeastern Florida, then theywould have had standing. See id. at 2304.

237 See supra notes 145 (discussing attempted distinction of Warth on grounds of partic-ularity), 225 (discussing problems with attempted distinction of Warth on grounds ofparticularity).

238 See Northeastern F/orida, 113 S. Ct. at 2302 (defining "injury in fact" to mean "aninvasion of a legally protected interest").

239 See supra notes 20-22 and accompanying text (discussing difference between "legalinterest" and "injury in fact" tests).

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In stating the applicable standing test, Justice Thomas quoted thelanguage ofJustice Scalia's opinion in Lujan that precludes program-matic challenges to governmental actions by insisting on particular-ized showings of imminence, proximity, causation, and redressabilityto establish an Article Ill injury.240 However, after quoting JusticeScalia's restrictive approach to standing, Justice Thomas proceeded todiscuss the issue of standing for the white plaintiff in Northeastern Flor-ida as if he were applying the expansive law of standing to which theCourt adhered during the injury-in-fact era of the early 1970s, 24 1

rather than the restrictive law of the post-1990 Scalia era.242 He accom-plished this by according liberal interpretations to the pleadings andminimal significance to the redressability difficulties that arise underthe facts of the case-things that the Supreme Court has not done inminority plaintiff cases or in its post-1990 cases other than NortheasternFlorida.

The reason that Justice Thomas gave for dispensing with thestringent redressability requirement was that Northeastern Florida wasan equal protection case, and that in equal protection cases the plain-tiff need only demonstrate a failure to compete or a failure to be consid-ered for a benefit on equal terms in order to establish standing.243 Insupport of this proposition, Justice Thomas relied heavily on Bakke,which permitted a disappointed white medical school applicant tochallenge the affirmative action program adopted by the University ofCalifornia at Davis Medical School without requiring the applicant todemonstrate that he would have been admitted to the school had theaffirmative action plan not been in effect. 244

There are several problems with this assertion. One problem isthat it is merely an assertion; Justice Thomas did not attempt to ex-plain why equal protection cases should be different from other casesin which standing has been denied for redressability reasons. Hemerely cited Bakke as establishing this proposition.2 45 A bare citationto authority might be an adequate basis for decision in some circum-stances, but it is insufficient for the resolution of a controversial issuein the constantly shifting context of standing, especially when the

240 See id. at 2801-02 (quoting Lujan test). This statement of the law is quoted above.See supra text accompanying note 19.241 See supra text accompanying notes 20-32 (discussing injury-in-fact cases).242 See supra text accompanying notes 34-45 (discussing post-1990 cases).243 See Northeastern Florida, 113 S. Ct. at 2302-03; see also supra notes 141-48 and accom-

panying text.244 See Northeaster Florida, 113 S. Ct. at 2302-03 (citing Regents of the Univ. of Cal. v.

Bakke, 438 U.S. 265, 280-81 n.14 (1978) (Powell,J.)). Although Bakke was a plurality deci-sion, this portion ofJustice Powell's opinion was joined by five justices. See Bakke, 438 272.245 See Northeastern Florida, 113 S. Ct. at 2302-03.

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Court's resolution goes against the grain of the Court's most recentprecedents.

Another problem with Justice Thomas's bare citation to Bakke isthat standing was hardly a central issue in that case. The primary par-ties did not raise the issue. Although the Court considered standingin response to an amicus argument, the Bakke discussion of the issuewas relegated to a mere three paragraph footnote, of which only oneparagraph addressed the issue of redressability.246 Moreover, in thatdiscussion of redressability, the Court appeared more to be deferringto a trial court finding of fact that the plaintiff suffered an injury in-dependent of his inability to be admitted to medical school, than tobe announcing a principle of standing jurisprudence. 247

Viewing the Northeastern Florida opinion most favorably to JusticeThomas, the reason that the Supreme Court found standing in Bakkeis that Bakke was decided in 1978, prior to the Supreme Court's Scalia-inspired hardening of the doctrine in the post-1990 cases.2 48 How-ever, even if this interpretation saves Bakke from characterization as aracially motivated decision, it still establishes nothing more than thatBakke arose in the twilight of the Court's permissive era of standing.249

It does not provide reliable authority for granting standing in theCourt's post-1990 restrictive era.

The conclusory nature of Justice Thomas's assertion that equalprotection cases are different from other standing cases is troublingnot only because he appeared to give the proposition little attention,but because the proposition also appears to be wrong. If there issomething special about equal protection cases, it must be that thedenial of fair or nondiscriminatory consideration of an application for a

246 See Bakke, 438 U.S. at 280-81 n.14. Justice Thomas did cite three additional deci-sions concerning the right to hold public office in support of his holding. Quinn v. Mill-sap, 491 U.S. 95 (1989); Clements v. Fashing, 457 U.S. 957 (1982); and Turner v. Fouche,396 U.S. 346 (1970). See Northeastern F/orida, 113 S. Ct. at 2302-03. However, these threecitations are just as cursory as the Bakke citation. In Turner v. Fouche, where the plaintiffchallenged a "freeholder" requirement for school board membership, the Court assertedin one sentence of one foomote that the "contention that no appellant has standing toraise this claim is without merit." Turner, 396 U.S. at 362 n.23. In Quinn v. Milisap, theCourt devoted one textual paragraph and one footnote paragraph to the issue of standing,although it ultimately did nothing more than cite Turner for the proposition that plaintiffswho do not own property have standing to challenge freeholder requirements for publicoffice. See Quinn, 491 U.S. at 103. Finally, Clements v. Fashingwas a ripeness case in whichthe Court held that public officials could challenge a requirement that they resign fromone office before running for another, even though they had not yet announced theircandidacy for the second office. In the course of its one-page discussion, the Court in-cluded a reference to Turner in a string cite. See Clements, 457 U.S. at 961-62.

247 See Bakke, 438 U.S. at 280-81 n.14 (second paragraph).248 See supra notes 34-45 and accompanying text (discussing post-1990 standing

decisions).249 See supra notes 34-45 and accompanying text (discussing emergence of the Court's

speculativeness, causation, and redressability requirements).

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benefit is important in a way that is independent from receipt of thebenefit itself. However, neither fairness nor nondiscrimination is ulti-mately able to sustain a claim that the Equal Protection Clause is spe-cial for standing purposes.

If the independent importance of considering an application fora benefit stems from the need for fair consideration, it is difficult tosee how the Equal Protection Clause is relevant. Although one mightwell favor standing to protect the process-based goal of ensuring pro-cedural regularity, that goal will be present in equal protection andnon-equal protection cases alike. The members of the plaintiff tradeassociation in Northeastern Florida may have been denied their proce-dural right to adequate consideration if their bids were improperlyrejected, 250 but the plaintiffs in Lujan were also denied their proce-dural right to adequate consideration if their claims for interagencyconsultation were improperly rejected. 251 The procedural defectexists regardless of whether the provision being violated is the EqualProtection Clause or the Endangered Species Act. Accordingly, thereis nothing special about the Equal Protection Clause that merits spe-cial treatment for standing purposes if the goal being pursued is thegoal of procedural fairness or adequate consideration. This goal,therefore, cannot be what caused Justice Thomas to view equal protec-tion cases as special for standing purposes.

If the goal that merits special treatment of standing under theEqual Protection Clause is the goal of nondiscrimination, JusticeThomas's claim has more facial plausibility, but it is still seriously vul-nerable. Justice Thomas might have argued that, in addition to serv-ing the procedural goal of adequate consideration, the EqualProtection Clause serves the substantive goal of prohibiting impermis-sible discrimination. This goal is frustrated when adequate considera-tion is denied on racially discriminatory grounds, as it was inNortheastern Florida, but it is not frustrated when adequate considera-tion is denied on nondiscriminatory, political, or economic grounds,as it was in Lujan. Therefore, equal protection cases should be treateddifferently for standing purposes because the denial of adequate con-sideration constitutes a substantive injury that is not present when alegal provision other than the Equal Protection Clause is alleged tohave been violated.

This argument is vulnerable to the response that other legal pro-visions-even purely procedural ones such as the Endangered SpeciesAct-also vest substantive rights in the beneficiaries of their proceduralguarantees. Under the Endangered Species Act, for example, envi-

250 The facts of Northeastern Forida are discussed above. See supra text accompanying

notes 46, 56-61.251 The facts of Lujan are discussed above. See supra text accompanying notes 59-45.

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ronmentalists who wish to view endangered species have a substantiveinterest in whatever increased level of endangered species protectionwill result from the procedural guarantees of the statute. After all, thewhole point of congressional enactment of the Endangered SpeciesAct was presumably to increase extant levels of protection for endan-gered species. To the extent thatJustice Thomas's equal-protection-is-special argument depends on a distinction between substance andprocedure, the argument can never be more satisfying than the dis-tinction on which it rests.252

But the primary problem with the argument is that, even if valid,it is ultimately unhelpful. At best, the argument that special standingrules should apply in equal protection cases enables Justice Thomas todistinguish Northeastern Florida from cases such as Lujan, where race*was not an issue. In cases where race is an issue, however-the casesthat are relevant to the present disparate impact analysis-the EqualProtection Clause is a constant, not a variable that serves as a basis fordistinction. By hypothesis, any case in which the plaintiff initiates aprogrammatic challenge to official governmental conduct on thegrounds that the conduct is racially discriminatory can be formulatedas an equal protection challenge. 253 This reformulation would makestanding liberally available in all such cases without recourse to draco-nian redressability requirements, and analysis of the pertinent stand-ing cases would then reveal no racially disparate impact. But that isnot what has happened; programmatic challenge cases do show a ra-cially disparate impact, and they show this disparate impact despite Jus-tice Thomas's purported special treatment of equal protectionclaims.254

252 The distinction between substance and procedure has been recognized as tenuous.

See, e.g., Gary Peller, Neutral Principles in the 1950's, 21 U. Micu.J.L. RE. 561, 566-72 (1988);see also Stephen B. Burbank, Hold the Corks: A Comment on Paul Carrington's "Substance" and-Procedure" in the Rules EnablingAct, 1989 DuKE LJ. 1012, 1012-13; Laura Cooper, Statutes ofLimitations in Minnesota Choice of Law: The Problematic Return of the Substance-ProcedureDistinc-tion, 71 MiNN. L. Ra-. 363, 371-77 (1986).

253 Some minority plaintiff programmatic challenge cases, such as Warth v. Seldin, 422U.S. 490 (1975), and the police misconduct cases, are naturally structured as equal protec-tion cases. Other cases, such as Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737 (1984), are naturally struc-tured as statutory violation cases, but they could easily be reformulated as equal protectioncases by emphasizing constitutional rather than statutory constraints on the challengedofficial conduct. See supra part III.A1 (discussing minority plaintiff programmatic chal-lenge cases).254 Justice Thomas also suggested that the reason the redressability requirement was

more potent in Warth than in Northeastern Florida was because the allegations of redressableinjury were not challenged by the defendant in Northeastern F/orida the way they were inWarth. See Northeastern Fla. Chapter of the Associated Gen. Contractors v. City ofJackson-ville, 113 S. Ct. 2297, 2304 (1993). As has been noted, this argument ignores the jurisdic-tional nature of the redressability requirement, which makes acquiescence of the partiesirrelevant. See supra note 92. However, even if the argument were more tenable, it would

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The imposing presence of the Supreme Court's earlier decisionin Warth v. Seldin forced Justice Thomas to confront, this flaw in hisequal protection argument.255 Warth was an explicit equal protectionchallenge to a pattern and practice of restrictive zoning actions.256 Asa result, the special standing rules for equal protection cases, onwhich Justice Thomas relied in order to distinguish Northeastern Floridafrom the redressability demands of the post-1990 cases such as Lujan,should have been available to permit standing for the plaintiffs inWarth.

Because the Warth plaintiffs were denied standing, JusticeThomas had to find a way to distinguish the two cases. After conced-ing that there was "undoubtedly some tension" between Warth and theother equal protection standing cases on which he had relied to findstanding in Northeastern Florida,257 justice Thomas offered two basesfor distinguishing Warth. First, he argued that in Warth the plaintiffswere not complaining about the inability to have their applications forzoning variances considered the way that the plaintiffs in other equalprotection cases like Bakke were. Rather, the plaintiffs in Warth werecomplaining about the failure to have their applications granted. Be-cause there is no difference between consideration when the outcomeis preordained and no consideration at all, this argument is famous.

Recognizing the tenuous nature of his distinction between appli-cations that are never considered and applications that are automati-cally denied, Justice Thomas immediately retreated to his fallbackargument. Even if the Warth plaintiffs had alleged a discriminatoryrefusal to consider their applications, they still lacked standing be-cause they had not alleged the existence of any particular construc-tion project that was being prevented by the alleged discriminatoryacts. 258 This second argument is simply untrue, and Justice Thomas'sassertion of it seems dishonest. As has been discussed,259 there was aparticular construction project at issue in Warth-the Court simplychose to disregard it as too stale.260 Whether one believes the sincer-

still amount to a mere technicality, rather than ajustification for a pattern of racially dispa-rate standing results.

255 See Northeastern Florida, 113 S. Ct. at 2803-04 (attempting to distinguish Warth).256 See Warth, 422 U.S. at 493.257 See Northeastern Florida, 113 S. Ct. at 2304.258 See id.259 See supra notes 145 & 225 (discussing particular housing construction project

that-despite Court's contrary assertion-was at issue in Warth).260 To compound this apparent disingenuity, Justice Thomas went on to assert that

"[an allegation that a 'specific project' was 'precluded' by the existence or administrationof the zoning ordinance would certainly have been sufficient to establish standing, butthere is no suggestion in Warth that it was necessary." Northeastern Forida, 113 S. Ct. at 2304(citation omitted). The whole point of Warth was, of course, that identification of a spe-cific project was precisely what was necessary. See supra note 225 (discussing presence of

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ity of the Court's assertion or not, the Warth plaintiffs' identificationof even a "stale" project did more to establish redressability than didthe total absence of any identified contract in Northeastern Florida.261

The outcomes of the Supreme Court's standing inquiries inprogrammatic challenges to allegedly racially discriminatory govern-ment conduct vary according to the race of the plaintiff. When theplaintiff is white or advocates the interests of the white majority, theCourt grants standing despite the programmatic nature of the chal-lenge, which the current Supreme Court has generally taken pains toexclude from judicial cognizance. When the plaintiff is a member of aracial minority, however, or advocates the interests of a racial minor-ity, the Court will deny standing on the ground that nonredressablegeneralized grievances and programmatic challenges are notjudiciallycognizable, but are better left to the political branches for resolution.

Justice Thomas's attempt in Northeastern Florida to account for thisracially disparate impact is so minimal and so disingenuous that it ex-acerbates rather than reduces the damage done by the Court's deci-sions. This disparate impact would alone be sufficient to establish aprima facie violation of the Title VII statutory prohibitions on racialdiscrimination-if such antidiscrimination provisions applied to theSupreme Court. But of course these antidiscrimination provisions donot apply to the Supreme Court, and thus, the Court is free to engagein conduct that has a racially disparate impact.

B. Standing and Intentional Discrimination

In Washington v. Davis,2 62 the Supreme Court adopted a discrimi-natory intent test for equal protection purposes, refusing to apply thedisparate impact standard that it had previously adopted under TireVII.263 The Court did not offer much explanation as to why the dispa-rate impact standard used in Tide VII cases was inappropriate for con-stitutional cases asserting an equal protection violation. It merelystated that the use of an effects test for equal protection purposeswould jeopardize the legality of a wide range of governmental actions,and that the decision to impose an effects test rather than an intenttest was legislative rather than judicial in nature.264

Nevertheless, the decision did establish that, for constitutionalpurposes, official action having a racially discriminatory effect does notviolate the Equal Protection Clause unless it is also motivated by a

particular housing construction project as distinguishing factor between Warth and Arling-ton Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp., 429 U.S. 252 (1977)).261 See supra part II.D (discussing redressability problem in Northeastern Florida).262 426 U.S. 229 (1976).263 See id. at 238-48.264 See id. at 248.

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racially discriminatory intent. However, an unexplained racially dispa-rate impact can itself be compelling evidence of discriminatory in-tent.265 If the Washington v. Davis intentional discrimination standardwere applied to the Supreme Court's standing decisions, the Courtwould be found to have engaged in unconstitutional discrimination inviolation of the Equal Protection Clause. Such a finding is justifiedbecause the racially disparate impact that exists in the SupremeCourt's programmatic standing decisions between actions filed bywhite plaintiffs and actions filed by minority plaintiffs supports an in-ference of discriminatory intent. Moreover, when this evidence is sup-plemented by the evidence of discriminatory intent that is provided bythe contemporary Court's civil rights decisions and the tradition ofracial oppression that the Court has historically fostered, the infer-ence of unconstitutional discriminatory intent becomes too powerfulto resist.

1. Contemporary Civil Rights Decisions

In the past decade, the Supreme Court has issued a series of rul-ings in civil rights cases that have been gratuitously adverse to the in-terests of racial minorities. The decisions can be characterized asgratuitous either because they were noticeably insupportable underthe accepted legal rules existing at the time, or because their politicalmotivation was so obvious that it is difficult to view the decisions asdistinct from ordinary politics.

Included among these decisions are the five affirmative actioncases that the Court has been able to resolve with majority opinions,the cases in which the Court sought to nullify the Title VII disparateimpact standard by reallocating burden of proof requirements underthe statute, and the cases concerning constitutional protection of ra-cially abusive hate speech. In addition, the Court issued a number ofmore esoteric decisions that helped to comprise the now infamous1988 Term assault on minorities. The racial attitudes of the contem-porary Supreme Court that emanate from these decisions, combinedwith the racially disparate impact of the Court's standing decisions,provides strong evidence of intentional discrimination-evidence suf-ficient to establish an equal protection violation, if the Equal Protec-tion Clause could meaningfully be applied to the Supreme Court.

a. Affirmative Action

Since 1974, the Supreme Court has granted certiorari in anumber of constitutional affirmative action cases,266 but has been able

265 See supra note 161 (inference of intent can be based upon disparate impact).266 See supra part M-a-2 (discussing Supreme Court affirmative action decisions).

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to issue majority opinions resolving the merits in only its five mostrecent decisions. In 1989 the Court decided City of Richmond v. JA.Croson Co.,267 in which it applied strict scrutiny under the Equal Pro-tection Clause to invalidate a minority set-aside program adopted bythe City Council of Richmond, Virginia for the award of municipalconstruction contracts. 268 In 1990 the Court decided Metro Broadcast-ing Inc. v. FCC,269 in which it applied intermediate scrutiny and up-held two minority preference programs used by the FCC in awardingradio and television broadcast licenses.270 In 1993 the Court decidedShaw v. Reno,271 in which it applied strict scrutiny to a voter reappor-tionment plan adopted by the State of North Carolina to increase mi-nority voting strength to comply with the Voting Rights Act.2 72 In1995 the Court decided Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena,273 whichoverruled Metro Broadcasting, and applied strict scrutiny to a federalstatute containing a presumption that minority construction contrac-tors were socially and economically disadvantaged, and therefore enti-tled to a preference in the award of construction contracts. In 1995the Court also decided Miller v. Johnson,274 in which it extended Shawv. Reno by invalidating a voter reapportionment plan because the loca-tion of the district lines had been "predominantly" motivated by race.

The Adarand decision has established that all affirmative action-whether federal, state, or local-is now subject to strict scrutiny.275

However, Adarand also stated that strict scrutiny is no longer to beconsidered fatal scrutiny.2 76 Although the Supreme Court recognizesthe potential legitimacy of using race-conscious affirmative action pro-grams for limited purposes, such as providing a remedy for the linger-ing effects of past discrimination,277 the fact that such remedies areharmful to whites makes affirmative action a remedy of last resort,permissible only in limited circ*mstances. 278

Despite their different outcomes, these five affirmative actioncases all provide evidence of the Supreme Court's preference for the

267 488 U.S. 469 (1989).268 See id. at 477-86.269 497 U.S. 547 (1990), overruled byAdarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena, 115 S. Ct. 2097

(1995).270 See id. at 563-66.271 113 S. Ct. 2816 (1993).272 See id. at 2824-30.273 115 S. Ct. 2097 (1995).274 115 S. Ct. 2475 (1995).275 See Adarand, 115 S. Ct. at 2117 (extending strict scrutiny from state and local to

federal affirmative action plans).276 See id. ("[w]e wish to dispel the notion that strict scrutiny is 'strict in theory but fatal

in fact.' ").277 See Adaran, 115 S. Ct. at 2117; Croson, 488 U.S. at 493-506.278 See SPANN, RACE AGAINST THE COURT, supra note 1, at 124-30 (discussing history of

Supreme Court law of affirmative action).

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interests of whites over the interests of racial minorities. The reason isthat these five cases share a common analytical peculiarity: each pro-ceeds from the premise that the Equal Protection Clause protectswhites as well as racial minorities. This premise is stated explicitly inthe majority opinions written by Justice O'Connor in Adarand,279

Shaw,280 and Croson,281 and is tacitly reaffirmed in the Miller majorityopinion written by Justice Kennedy,282 and the Metro Broadcasting ma-jority opinion written by Justice Brennan.283 The premise is, however,insupportable as either an originalist or a functional matter.

As an originalist matter, the intent of the drafters of the Four-teenth Amendment had nothing whatsoever to do with protecting theinterests of the white majority. Stated most flatteringly, the intent ofthe drafters was to provide federal protection-primarily congres-sional, as opposed to judicial, protection-to former black slaves whowere being victimized by the Black Codes of the post-Civil War South.Stated less flatteringly, the intent of the victorious northern drafterswas to punish the rebellious southern states after the Civil War by de-priving them of the federalism-based power to control their internalaffairs. 28 4 The intent of the drafters may have been to punish whites,but it was certainly not to protect them.

As a functional matter, the Fourteenth Amendment is perhapsmost commonly understood as implementing a representation-rein-forcement theory of constitutional law, under which the courts areempowered to reverse the policy preferences of politically accounta-ble legislatures only if there is evidence that the legislature discountedor disregarded the interests of discrete and insular minorities who areunderrepresented in the political process.285 Although many othertheories of constitutional law exist, representation-reinforcement isprobably the most popular contemporary process theory, as evidenced

279 See Adarand, 115 S. Ct. at 2108.280 See Shaw v. Reno, 113 S. Ct. 2816, 2829 (1993).281 See Croson, 488 U.S. at 493-98.282 See Miller v. Johnson, 115 S. Ct. 2475, 2486 (1995) (prohibiting assignment of

whites to voting districts on the basis of race).283 See Metro Broadcasting, Inc. v. FCC, 497 U.S. 547, 563-66 (1990), overnded by

Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena, 115 S. Ct. 2097 (1995). The Metro Broadcasting Courtapplied intermediate scrutiny to FCC minority preference programs. If it had viewedwhites as unprotected by the Equal Protection Clause, it would presumably have appliedthe rational basis standard of review that is typically applied in equal protection cases thatdo not involve suspect classifications such as race. See, e.g., New York City Transit Auth. v.Beazer, 440 U.S. 568, 590-94 (1979); City of New Orleans v. Dukes, 427 U.S. 297, 303-06(1976); McGowan v. Maryland, 366 U.S. 420, 425-28 (1961).284 See STONE ET AL., supra note 1, at 481-83 (discussing political environment from

which Reconstruction Amendments emerged).285 See generally ELY, supra note 1 (describing representation-reinforcement theory).

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by Justice O'Connor's focus on the theory in her Croson opinion.28 6

Although contemporary racial minorities arguably constitute discreteand insular minorities who are underrepresented in the political pro-cess, it is difficult to view the white majority as a politically under-represented minority needing judicial protection from majoritarianlegislative enactments such as the affirmative action programs at issuein Croson, Metro Broadcasting, Shaw, Adarand, and Miller.28 7

The lack of an analytically sound basis for the contemporarySupreme Court's assertion of the principle that the Equal ProtectionClause protects the white majority renders the Court's motives sus-pect. Because there is no obvious reason why the Court should invali-date majoritarian enactments to protect the white majority, theCourt's indulgence in such invalidations seems racially protectionist.Even when the majority elects to allocate a resource to a racial minor-ity, the Court reserves the right to invalidate that allocation if it disap-proves of the majority's judgment. The Court appears to view itself asthe guardian of majority interests, whose job it is to prevent the tyr-anny of the minority and to ensure that the majority is not disadvan-taged by its own shortsightedness.288

It is possible to construct theories ofjudicial review, such as pub-lic choice theory,289 under which the task of protecting majoritarian

286 See City of Richmond v. JA Croson Co., 488 U.S. 469, 495-96 (1989) (citing ELY,

supra note 1, at 170).287 In Croson, Justice O'Connor emphasized that five of the nine seats on the Rich-

mond City Council were occupied by blacks. See id. This does not, however, establishwhites as an underrepresented minority in Richmond. Whites in Richmond appear tohave constituted roughly 50% of the population, see id., and they plainly constituted amajority of the electorate in the State of Virginia and the United States, both of which arepolitical entities possessing the legal authority to nullify the Richmond set-aside program.The FCC preferences at issue in Metro Broadcasting, Inc. v. FCC, 497 U.S. 547 (1990),were held to be congressionally authorized affirmative action plans, see id. at 563-66, andwhites obviously constitute substantial majorities in both the United States Congress andon the FCC, which designed and implemented the preference programs. The reappor-tionment plan at issue in Shaw v. Reno, 113 S. Ct. 2816 (1993), was adopted by a statewhose legislature was so overwhelmingly white that the case centered around the first blackrepresentative that the state had sent to Congress since Reconstruction. See id. at 2843(Blackmun, J., dissenting). Like the FCC programs in Metro Broadcasting, the presumptionof minority disadvaitage in Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena, 115 S. Ct. 2097 (1995), wasadopted by the overwhelmingly white United States Congress. See id. at 2102-04. And likethe North Carolina reapportionment plan in Shaw, the Georgia reapportionment plan inMiller v.Johnson, 115 S. Ct. 2475 (1995), was adopted by a majority white legislature in asouthern state with a history of voting discrimination. See id. at 2483-84.

288 For a fuller elaboration of this thesis, see SPANN, RACE AGAINST THE COURT, supranote 1, at 119-49.

289 Stated briefly, public choice theory is a political economics theory positing that,

because of "free rider" problems, governmental decisionmaking will tend to favor specialinterest groups rather than the more diffuse majority interest. Under this construct, anaffirmative action program that benefitted racial minority special interests would stand abetter chance of enactment than a majoritarian effort to prevent the enactment of thespecial interest program. Accordingly, the job of a reviewing court would be to set aside

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preferences is a defensible function of the Supreme Court. Such the-ories, however, do not lend themselves to characterization of theSupreme Court as a guardian of minority interests. Rather, they rec-ognize the Court to be the guardian of majority interests at the ex-pense of minority interests. Accordingly, such theories suggest thatthe Supreme Court will on occasion be engaged in intentional dis-crimination within the meaning of Washington v. Davis.

b. Title VI Burden of Proof

As has been noted, the Supreme Court held in Griggs v. DukePower Co. that the existence of unlawful discrimination for Titie VIIpurposes was to be determined through a discriminatory effects testrather than a discriminatory intent test 2 90 In issuing the Griggs deci-sion, the Court purported not to be relying on its own policy prefer-ences, but to be implementing congressional intent 2 91 In subsequentdecisions, however, the Court reinterpreted the Griggs discriminatoryeffects test to be very demanding-so demanding, in fact, that it be-came arguably more difficult to satisfy than the nominally more de-manding intentional discrimination standard of Washington v. Davis.

When the Griggs disparate impact decision was issued in 1971, itwas intended to apply most directly to objective employment criteriasuch as high school diploma requirements and standardized testscores.2 92 Although Griggs did not preclude the use of objective hiringand promotion criteria when those criteria merely produced a raciallydisparate result, the decision shifted to the employer the burden ofproving that the criteria were sufficientlyjob-related that they neutral-ized or outweighed the racially disparate impact that resulted fromtheir use.2 93

In 1988 the Court confronted the issue of whether the discrimi-natory effects test should also be applied to subjective employmentcriteria, such as impressions created by personal interviews, orwhether a discriminatory intent standard was more appropriate forsubjective criteria. In Watson v. Fort Worth Bank & Trust,2 94 the Courtheld that a discriminatory effects test should be applied despite the

the special interest enactment because it distorted the outcome that would have been pro-duced by a properly functioning majoritarian political process. In a sense, public choicetheory is the politically conservative flip side of the typically liberal representation-rein-forcement theory ofjudicial review. For a general discussion of public choice theory, seeESKRIDGE & FucaKEY, supra note 1, at 867-98.

290 See supra part IlA (discussing disparate impact test for discrimination).291 See Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424, 429-36 (1971); cf Washington v. Davis,

426 U.S. 229, 248 (1976) (declining to adopt discriminatory effects test for equal protec-tion purposes because adoption of such a test was a legislative function).292 See Griggs, 401 U.S. at 430-33.293 See id. at 431-36.294 487 U.S. 977 (1988).

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subjective nature of the criteria because use of a discriminatory intentstandard wouldpermit employers to evade Griggs simply by combiningsubjective criteria with whatever objective criteria they wished to util-ize.2 95 However, Justice O'Connor wrote a plurality opinion that con-tained dicta reallocating the burden of proof. A majority of the Courtadopted this dicta the following Term in Wards Cove Packing Co. v.Atonio.2


Justice White wrote the majority opinion in Wards Cove, whichfirst reaffirmed the applicability of a discriminatory effects test to sub-jective employment criteria,297 and then went on to adopt JusticeO'Connor's reallocation of the burden of proof. 298 Prior to Watsonand Wards Cove, the employee's demonstration of a racially disparateimpact would establish a prima facie case of discrimination and shiftto the employer.the burden of explaining why the practice producingthe disparate impact was nevertheless a justifiable employment prac-tice.2 99 Under the new allocation, however, an employee claiming tobe the victim of racial discrimination was given the burden not only ofproving that the challenged employment practice produced a raciallydisparate impact, but of anticipating and negating explanations of thedisparate impact that might dispel the suspicion of discriminatory in-tent.3 00 Justice White not only shifted the burden of proof, but alsomade the burden unmanageable for many plaintiffs by requiringthem to focus on particular employment practices rather than on thecollective effect of all the employer's practices. 301

Under Watson and Wards Cove, an employee could no longer es-tablish a prima facie case by demonstrating that an employer had useda combination of seven objective and subjective selection criteria toproduce a racially disparate impact. Rather, the employee was re-quired to isolate each of the seven criteria, prove which ones wereresponsible for the disparate impact, and negate any Potential justifi-cations for the use of those criteria in order to establish a prima faciecase. Because this is difficult to do in the large number of cases inwhich no one knows precisely what is responsible for a demonstrateddisparate impact, a Title VII plaintiff could lose the very same casethat he or she would have won before Watson and Wards Cove.

295 See id. at 989-91.

296 490 U.S. 642 (1989).297 See id. at 649-50.298 See id. at 650-55.299 See Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 404 U.S. 424, 431 (1971) ("The touchstone is busi-

ness necessity. If an employment practice which operates to exclude Negroes cannot beshown to be related to job performance, the practice is prohibited.").

300 See Wards Cove, 490 U.S. at 650-55.301 See id. at 655-58.

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In effect, Watson and Wards Cove required a Title VII plaintiff toprove not only that the challenged employment practice had a dis-criminatory effect, but also that the employer had a discriminatory in-tent in adopting it, by negating all possible explanations for thedisparate impact that did not entail discriminatory intent. Statedmore succinctly, Watson and Wards Cove replaced the Griggs discrimi-natory effects test with a discriminatory effects plus discriminatory in-tent test. Although the operative legal standard for Title VII caseschanged as a result of Watson and Wards Cove, the statutory languageof Title VII did not. The only thing that changed was the politicalorientation of the Supreme Court.

In 1971, when Griggs was decided, the Court was in a very realsense still the Warren Court. Chief Justice Warren had retired onlytwo years earlier.30 2 By 1989, however, when Wards Cove was decided,Justices Black, Douglas, Harlan, and Stewart had been replaced byChief Justice Rehnquist, and Justices O'Connor, Scalia, and Ken-nedy.30 3 The 1989 Court was much more conservative on racial issuesthan the immediate post-Warren Court had been. A measure of the1989 Court's racial conservatism is provided by the fact that none ofthe four replacement Justices has ever voted in favor of the minorityposition in an affirmative action case that the Court has decided onconstitutional grounds.30 4 Now that Justices Brennan and Marshall

302 See STONE Er AL., supra note 1, at lxxxi-lxxxiii (chart showing tenure of SupremeCourt justices).303 See id.304 See supra note 204 (citing the 14 constitutional affirmative action cases that the

Court has considered to date). In each of those cases ChiefJustice Rehnquist andJusticesO'Connor, Scalia, and Kennedy either voted against the racial minority position or werenot on the Court when the case was decided. The only arguable exception is the vote castby then-Justice Rehnquist in United Jewish Organizations v. Carey, 430 U.S. 144 (1977), touphold a New York legislative apportionment scheme. The scheme had been adopted inorder to comply with the Voting Rights Act, and it increased black voting strength by dilut-ing the voting strength of a HasidicJewish community. See id. at 147-55 (White, J.) (statingfacts); id. at 165-68 (Stewart, J., joined by Stevens & Rehnquist, JI.). It is not clear whatinference should be drawn fromJustice Rehnquist's vote in this case. Even thoughJusticeRehnquist voted against the Hasidic plaintiffs, he may well have conceived of the case asinvolving a dispute between two minority groups rather than as a dispute between a racialminority and the majority.

It should also be noted thatJustice O'Connor voted to dismiss Northeastern Florida asmoot. See Northeastern Fla. Chapter of the Associated Gen. Contractors v. City ofJackson-ville, 113 S. Ct. 2297, 2805-09 (1993) (O'Connor, J., dissenting). However, JusticeO'Connor's majority opinion in the factually similar City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co.,488 U.S. 469 (1989), leaves little doubt that she would vote to invalidate the NortheasternFlorida affirmative action plan on the merits if she viewed the issue as properly presented.Although all four replacementJustices voted to dismiss for lack of standing the voter reap-portionment challenge in United States v. Hays, 115 S. Ct. 2431 (1995), all four voted onthe same day to uphold the merits of the same type of reapportionment challenge in Millerv.Johnson, 115 S. Ct. 2475 (1995).

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have been replaced by Justices Souter and Thomas,30 5 the presentSupreme Court is even more conservative on racial issues.3 06

Congress overruled the Watson and Wards Cove decisions in theCivil Rights Act of 1991 and restored the Griggs disparate impact bur-den and standard of proof to Title VII.30 7 This suggests not only thatthe Supreme Court was politically motivated in its reinterpretation ofTide VII, but that its reinterpretation of the statute was outside themainstream of contemporary thought on the issue of racial discrimi-nation in employment. In addition, the Court's pretense in Watsonand Wards Cove that it was preserving the Griggs disparate impact stan-dard for subjective criteria cases-when it was in fact imposing a newstandard that would often be harder to satisfy than the Washington v.Davis intent standard-evinces disrespect for racial minorities by sug-gesting that minorities are unworthy of candid disclosures. TheCourt's conservative deviation from the norm on the burden of proofissue in Title VII cases, combined with its condescension, provide ad-ditional reasons to suspect that the Court has engaged in intentionaldiscrimination in issuing its racially correlated pattern of standingdecisions.

c. Hate Speech

The regulation of hate speech-speech consisting of racially de-rogatory language, epithets, or symbols-is one of the most controver-sial topics in contemporary constitutional law. Racial minorities oftenargue that hate speech is a unique form of tortious injury that silencesminority speech, inflicts severe emotional harm on its victims, pro-vides no corresponding societal benefit, and increases inter-groupfrictions in a way that frustrates ultimate realization of generally ac-cepted goals of racial tolerance, harmony, and uninhibited free ex-pression.308 Opponents of hate speech regulation often argue thatFirst Amendment values favoring free expression are seriously under-mined by the censorship of hate speech because it has traditionallybeen understood that the government should not regulate expression

305 See STONE Er AL., supra note 1, at lxx, Lxxxiii & 1994 Supp. at 1-2 (chart showing

tenure of Supreme Court justices and biographical data concerning Justices Souter andThomas).

306 It is too soon to tell how the replacement ofJustices White and Blackmun byJus-tices Ginsburg and Breyer will affect the political leaning of the Court in race cases. BothJustices, however, dissented from the majority opinions in Miller and Adarand. See Miller,115 S. Ct. at 2497 (Ginsburg, J., dissenting, joined by Breyer, J.); Adarand Constructors,Inc. v. Pena, 115 S. Ct. 2097, 2134 (1995) (Ginsburg, J., dissenting, joined by Breyer, J.).

307 See Civil Rights Act of 1991, Pub. L No. 102-166, 105 Stat. 1071 (codified asamended in scattered sections of 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e-16 (Supp. V 1993)).


ASSAULTIVE SPEECH, AND THE FIRST AMENDMENT (1993) (offering arguments to justify regu-lation of hate speech).

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on the grounds that it disapproves of the content of thatexpression.3 09

In recent Terms, the Supreme Court has twice considered theconstitutionality of hate speech regulations. In 1992 the Court de-cided RA. V. v. City of St. Paul310 invalidating a "Bias-Motivated CrimeOrdinance" that prohibited the display of symbols such as burningcrosses or swastikas that were likely to "arouse [ ] anger, alarm or re-sentment in others on the basis of race, color, creed, religion or gen-der."311.Justice Scalia, writing for the majority, accepted for the sake ofargument the Minnesota Supreme Court's construction of the ordi-nance as encompassing only those forms of expression that are "fight-ing words" unprotected by the First Amendment.3 12 Nevertheless,Justice Scalia concluded that the St. Paul ordinance violated the FirstAmendment because it constituted a content-based regulation whichpunished speech that offended on the basis of race and the other cat-egories enumerated in the ordinance, but did not punish speech thatoffended on the basis of other characteristics. 313 He noted that derog-atory speech about one's mother or derogatory speech directed at"anti-Catholic bigots" might be very offensive but would not be pro-scribed by the ordinance, thereby demonstrating that the ordinanceencompassed impermissible viewpoint discrimination. 314

In 1993 the Court issued a decision in Wisconsin v. Mitchell 315 up-holding the constitutionality of a Wisconsin hate crimes penalty en-hancement statute, which had been used to increase the maximumsentence given to a criminal defendant convicted of aggravated bat-tery because the defendant intentionally selected his victim on the ba-sis of race.316 ChiefJustice Rehnquist's majority opinion rejected theargument that the penalty enhancement statute violated the FirstAmendment by penalizing the defendant's abstract racial beliefs, andheld that the enhancement statute punished conduct rather thanspeech.317 Chief Justice Rehnquist distinguished RA.V. as a case inwhich the underlying crime consisted of expression, whereas in Mitch-ell, the underlying crime had nothing to do with expression. Expres-

309 See, e.g., Cole, supra note 1, at 65 (1993) (arguing that minority interests are ulti-mately better protected through guarantee of free speech than through suppression ofhate speech); Charles Fried, The New First AmendmentJurispunae: A Threat to Liberty, 59 U.CHI. L. REv. 225, 245-55 (1992) (arguing that regulation of hate speech is inconsistent withtraditional First Amendment liberty).

310 112 S. Ct. 2538 (1992).311 See id. at 2541.312 See id. at 2542 (citing Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568 (1942)).313 See id. at 2542-50.314 See id. at 2548.315 113 S. Ct. 2194 (1993).316 See id. at 2197.317 See id. at 2199-2202.

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sion-in the form of the defendant's motivating beliefs-was relevantonly to determine the defendant's sentence, not his culpability.318

The Mitchell opinion relied in passing on Dawson v. Delawar 19 andBarclay v. Fhnoida320 to support the distinction between speech andconduct. Dawson held that the defendant's abstract status as a racialbigot could not be used to justify imposition of the death penalty, butBarclay held that racial bigotry relevant to the defendant's crime couldbe used to justify imposition of the death penalty.3 21

Despite the assurances of ChiefJustice Rehnquist, it is difficult todistinguish Mitchell from R.A.V The distinction offered in Mitchellrests upon the belief that a meaningful difference between speechand conduct exists. However, because speech is conduct and becausemuch conduct is expressive, it is not surprising that the distinctionbetween the two has proved to be elusive.

Under the Mitchell fact situation, there are two relevant crimes:battery, which carries a normal penalty, and bigoted battery, whichcarries the normal penalty for battery plus an enhanced penalty forbigotry. When the two crimes are compared, the battery componentsand their associated penalties cancel each other out, and all that is leftis bigotry and the enhanced penalty. There is no conduct left, onlyspeech-bigotry-and R.A.V holds that bigotry alone cannot be crimi-nally punished because that would implicate the government in theimpermissible content-based regulation of speech that it disfavors.

The Dawson and Barclay decisions-on which Chief Justice Rehn-quist relied to support his proffered distinction between speech andconduct-do nothing to avoid the problem. Everyone agrees that adefendant's "good" characteristics can be considered in the abstract asmitigating factors by a sentencing judge or jury.322 This establishesthat "speech," as well as conduct, is relevant to the state's impositionof criminal punishment. Although one might try to distinguish Daw-son and Barclay by focusing on the degree of relevance that a defen-dant's abstract beliefs have to the defendant's crime3 23 or on whetherthe defendant's beliefs are used to mitigate or enhance the defen-dant's sentence, 324 these are simply matters of judicial discretion and

318 See id.

319 503 U.S. 159 (1992).320 463 U.S. 939 (1983).321 See Mitchel4 113 S. Ct. at 2200.322 See Dawson, 503 U.S. at 169-80 (Thomas, J., dissenting) (emphasizing instances in

which mitigating character traits have been held to be admissible and listing the mitigatingcharacter traits that were admitted in the Dawson case itself).323 Cf id. at 178-80 (Thomas,J., dissenting) (noting that Due Process Clause-not First

Amendment-regulates degree to which evidence can be admitted in light of its probativevalue and prejudicial nature).

324 Intuitively, it may seem different to admit evidence that the defendant was a GirlScout or an altar boy for the purpose of mitigating the defendant's sentence, than to admit

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have nothing whatsoever to do with a qualitative distinction betweenconduct and speech.

Justice Scalia might respond that because bigotry was assumed tobe unprotected speech in RA.V, it can be suppressed by the govern-ment as long as the government chooses to suppress all bigotry anddoes not selectively engage in viewpoint discrimination with respect tothe various brands of bigotry that compete for recognition in the mar-ketplace of ideas.3 25 But the Wisconsin statute that was upheld inMitchell enumerates roughly the same categories of proscribed bigotryas did the St. Paul ordinance that was invalidated in R.A.V Race,color, and religion are common to both; the Wisconsin statute addsdisability, sexual orientation, and national origin or ancestry; and theSt. Paul ordinance adds creed and gender.3 26 Both omit from theircoverage bigotry directed at a person's mother and bigotry directedagainst "anti-Catholic bigots"-the two categories of bigotry on which

Justice Scalia focused to illustrate the deficiency in the St. Paulordinance.

3 27

Some have suggested that despite the difficulty of finding neutralor principled differences between the "speech" protected in RA. Vand the "conduct" punished in Mitchell, there is certainly a differencebetween pure expression on the one hand and expression that is inti-mately connected to conduct on the other.328 Along the spectrum ofspeech-connected-to-conduct, for example, an arbitrary dischargefrom employment is qualitatively distinct from a racially motivated dis-charge. Accordingly, the legislature should be free to punish the twoforms of speech-connected-to-conduct differently, as Congress choseto do in Title VII.3 2 9 Similarly, no one argues that the distinctiondrawn between child molestation and adult molestation for sentenc-ing purposes is unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds. Thesedistinctions, however, are every bit as infirm as the purported distinc-

evidence that the defendant belonged to a racist organization for the purpose of enhanc-ing the defendant's sentence. However, it is difficult to find a principled difference be-tween these two--especially a difference that does anything to support a distinctionbetween speech and conduct.

325 Note that Chief Justice Rehnquist does not make this argument in Mitchell butrather rests on the speech-conduct distinction. See Mitchel, 113 S. Ct. at 2200-01. This isparticularly surprising because Chief Justice Rehnquist devotes much of his energy in aprevious portion of the opinion to undermining the speech-conduct distinction by citing thenumerous instances in which we focus on the defendant's motives and beliefs-the defen-dan's speech-in order to determine how much to punish the defendant's conduct. Seeid. at 2199-200.326 Compare Mitchell 113 S. Ct. at 2197 with R.A.V, 112 S. Ct. at 2541 (setting out perti-

nent legal provisions).327 See R.A.V., 112 S. Ct. at 2547-48.328 See Cole, supra note 1, at 65-68.329 See id. at 66 (emphasizing noncommunicative aspect of conduct state wishes to


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tion between RA.V. and Mitchell. The fact that we routinely toleratedifferential punishment of discharges and molestations, despite theexpressive components of their motivations, only means that theSupreme Court honors the tenuous distinction between speech andconduct when it is convenient to do so. It does not mean that thedistinction has content.

RA.V. and Mitchell are indistinguishable along the spectrum ofFirst Amendment doctrine, but they are distinguishable along anotherspectrum. The defendant who escaped a criminal sentence in R.A.Vwas white,330 but the defendant who was subjected to an enhancedcriminal sentence in Mitchell was black.331 The victim whose raciallymotivated injury was found to be redressable under the Constitutionin Mitchell was white,332 but the victim whose racially motivated injurywas found not to be redressable under the Constitution in R.A.V. wasblack.3 33 In the two cases on which Chief Justice Rehnquist relied inMitchell to illustrate when bigotry could be considered by a sentencingjudge or jury in death penalty cases, the outcome also varied with therace of the defendant. In Dawson v. Delaware, the bigot whose bigotrywas held to be inadmissible was a white supremacist.33 4 In Barclay v.F/orida, the bigot wlhose bigotry was held to be admissible was a mem-ber of the Black Liberation Army.3 3 5

When doctrine gets murky, it loses its ability to justify outcomes.One is then forced to look for alternate ways to account for thoseoutcomes. In racially charged cases such as R.A.V., Mitchell, Dawson,and Barclay, racial correlations between those whom the SupremeCourt elects to protect and those whom the Court elects to abandonbecome conspicuous. Realistically, Supreme Court adjudications areat least as interesting for the messages that they send as for the doctri-nal rules that they articulate. The hate speech cases provide yet an-other basis for suspecting that the Court was engaged in intentionaldiscrimination when it issued its racially correlated pattern of standingdecisions.

d. The 1988 Term

The Supreme Court's 1988 Term symbolizes the racial attitude ofthe present Supreme Court. During that Term, the Rehnquist Courtissued a series of rulings that were either directly or indirectly harmful

330 See Brief for Respondent at 1-2, R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, 112 S. Ct. 2538 (1992)(No. 90-7675) (stating that defendant was white).331 See Wisconsin v. Mitchell, 113 S. Ct. 2194, 2196 (1993) (stating that defendant was

black).332 See id. (stating that victim was white).333 See R.A.V., 112 S. Ct. at 2541 (stating that victim was black).334 See Mitchel4 113 S. Ct. at 2200 (discussing Dawson).335 See id. (discussing Barclay).

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to the political and economic interests of racial minorities. In caseafter case, the Court was unrelenting in its dissemination of themessage that the Supreme Court was no longer the place to whichminorities should turn for improvement of their social condition.

Many of these decisions were subsequently overruled by Congressin the Civil Rights Act of 1991.336 Although congressional reversalhelped to nullify the substantive damage that the Court had inflicted,itdid nothing to reverse the impression created by the Term's deci-sions that the Court is an institution unreceptive to minority claimsfor protection from the race-related dangers inherent in ordinarypolitics.

As U.S. Law Week observed, "A series of civil rights decisions by aconservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court making it easier tochallenge affirmative action programs and more difficult to establishclaims of employment discrimination highlighted the 1988-89 term'slabor and employment cases."33 7 Law Week described seven decisionsthat had been handed down that Term to illustrate its point. The twobest known decisions were City of Richmond v. fA. Croson Co.,338 whichinvalidated the minority set-aside plan adopted by the Richmond CityCouncil,339 and Wards Cove Packing Co. v. Atonio,3 40 which reallocatedand heightened the burden of proof in Title VII cases.3 4'

The other decisions referenced in Law Week were less celebratedbut still harmful to minority interests in both substantive and symbolicways. In Patterson v. McLean Credit Union,a42 the Supreme Courtadopted a narrow construction of 42 U.S.C. § 1981-a Reconstructioncivil rights statute that, among other things, prohibits discriminationin the making or enforcement of contracts. The Court held that thestatute did not prohibit racial harassment of minority employees bytheir employers despite the contractual basis of the employment. TheCourt then held inJett v. Dallas Independent School District343 that § 1981actions could not be used to file discrimination claims against munici-palities under a theory of respondeat superior.

In Martin v. Wilks,344 the Court permitted white workers to main-tain a collateral attack on a Title VII consent decree that contained

336 See Civil Rights Act of 1991, Pub. L No. 102-166, 105 Stat. 1071 (codified as

amended in scattered sections of 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e-16 (Supp. V 1993)).337 Review of Supreme Court's Term: Labor and Employment Law, 58 U.S.L.W. 3065 (Aug. 8,

1989).338 488 U.S. 469 (1989).39 See supra notes 267, 286-87 and accompanying text (discussing Croson).340 490 U.S. 642 (1989).341 See supra notes 296-301 and accompanying text (discussing Wards Cove).342 491 U.S. 164 (1989).343 491 U.S. 701 (1989) (race discrimination claim filed by white employee against

black employer).344 490 U.S. 755 (1989).

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affirmative action provisions, even though the workers had chosen notto intervene in the litigation out of which the consent decree hademerged. 345 In Lorance v. AT&T Technologies, Inc.,346 the Court heldthat the statute of limitations for Title VII challenges to discriminatoryseniority systems began to run when the seniority systems were firstadopted, rather than when the discriminatory aspects of the systememerged in the form of seniority-based demotions.3m7 In IndependentFederation of Flight Attendants v. Zipes,348 the Court held that attorney'sfees for prevailing plaintiffs could not be assessed against unsuccessfulunion intervenors in the Tide VII case.349

Two 1988 Term cases that were not included in the Law Weekaccount also adversely affected the interests of racial minorities. InPrice Waterhouse v. Hopkins,350 the Court held that discriminatory em-ployment decisions did not violate Tide VII if the employer couldshow that the plaintiff would not have received the benefit soughteven in the absence of the alleged discrimination. In Will v. MichiganDepartment of State Police,351 the Court held that 42 U.S.C. § 1983-an-other Reconstruction statute, which prohibits official discriminationunder "color" of state law-did not permit discrimination suits to befiled against states as employers because states did not constitute "per-sons" within the meaning of § 1983.

Congress responded to the 1988 Term by enacting the CivilRights Act of 1991,352 which overruled many of that Term's decisions.In Landgraf v. USIFilm Products,353 the Supreme Court listed the 1988Term cases, as well as other recent decisions, that Congress modifiedby its enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. 354 The Court notedthat the purpose of the Act was "to respond to recent decisions of theSupreme Court by expanding the scope of relevant civil rights statutesin order to provide adequate protection to victims of discrimina-tion."3 55 Section 3(4) of the Act, as well as sections 2(2) and 3(2),changed the Court's new burden of proof requirements by restoringthe burden of proof rules that had existed prior to Wards Cove.356 Inaddition, section 101 changed the result in Patterson, by extending the

345 See id. at 763-68.346 490 U.S. 900, 909-11 (1989) (gender discrimination case that also applies to race).347 See2 id. at 909-11.

348 491 U.S. 754, 761-66 (1989).349 See id. at 761-66.350 490 U.S. 228 (1989) (gender discrimination case that also applies to race).35' 491 U.S. 58 (1989).352 See Civil Rights Act of 1991, Pub. L. No. 102-166, 105 Stat. 1071 (codified as

amended in scattered sections of 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e-16 (Supp. V 1993)).353 114 S. Ct. 1483 (1994).354 See id. at 1489-90.355 Id. at 1489 quoting § 3(4) of the Act.356 See id.

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42 U.S.C. § 1981 prohibition on discrimination in the making or en-forcement of contracts to encompass on-the-job racial harassment ofemployees, 357 Section 107 changed the result in Price Waterhouse byprescribing new discrimination standards to be used in mixed-motivediscrimination cases. 3 58 Section 108 changed the result in Martin v.Wilks by prohibiting certain collateral challenges to employment con-sent decrees.3 59 Section 112 changed the result in Lorance by enlarg-ing the rights of minority employees to challenge discriminatoryseniority systems.360

The fact that the Supreme Court, in a single Term, issued a stringof nine cases that were uniformly adverse to racial minority interestsdoes not alone prove anything. Nevertheless, the nine cases are sug-gestive of a racially insensitive attitude. When the 1988 Term is con-sidered in conjunction with the congressional reversal of many of thecases decided that Term, the Supreme Court begins to look like aninstitution that is at the periphery, rather than the core, of contempo-rary attitudes on race. When the 1988 Term is considered in conjunc-tion with the current Court's doctrinally tenuous hostility toward themerits of affirmative action cases, the suggestion of racial insensitivitygrows stronger still. When all of this is then combined with theCourt's willingness to adopt a dramatic shift in the traditional burdenof proof for Titie VII cases, the suggestion becomes a strong suspicion.The suspicion is reinforced by the Court's racially correlated decisionsin the hate speech cases. This suspicion, combined with the strikinglydisparate impact of the Court's standing decisions, is sufficient to sup-port a compelling inference of intentional discrimination that violatesthe Equal Protection Clause under the Court's own standard in Wash-ington v. Davis. Characterization of the Supreme Court as intention-ally discriminatory is not unique to the Rehnquist Court. As aninstitutional matter, the Supreme Court has always been intentionallydiscriminatory.

2. Traditional Discrimination

Whether or not the discriminatory pattern of the SupremeCourt's standing decisions is ultimately deemed to amount to inten-

357 See id.358 See Landgraf v. USI Film Prods., 114 S. Ct. 1483, 1489-90 (1994).359 See id.360 See id. at 1490. In addition to modifying these 1988 Term decisions, § 109 of the

Act overruled EEOC v. Arabian American Oil Co., 499 U.S. 244 (1991), by redefining theterm "employee" in Title VII to include certain United States citizens working for UnitedStates employers in foreign countries; § 113 overruled West Virginia University Hospitals,Inc. v. Casey, 499 U.S. 83 (1991), by providing that attorneys' fees recoverable under TitleVII could include expert fees; and § 114 overruled Library of Congress v. Shaw, 478 U.S.310 (1986), by authorizing the recovery of interest on judgments against the United States.See Landgraf, 114 S. Ct. at 1490.

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tional discrimination within the meaning of Washington v. Davis, itdoes constitute traditional discrimination. Supreme Court decisionssuch as Northeastern Florida are merely the latest offerings in a longtradition of Supreme Court decisions that have preserved majoritycontrol over minority interests. Whether or not Supreme Court jus-tices consciously intend to do so, they serve as agents of the majorityin implementing majoritarian preferences concerning minority rights.

The Supreme Court is ideally suited to serve in a majoritarianinstitutional role because its task is to make rhetorical pronounce-ments that give meaning to the goals and objectives to which our soci-ety aspires. In practice, however, the Court has not lived up to thoseaspirational goals and objectives itself. Because it is the SupremeCourt that determines the meaning of the Constitution,361 there is noinstitution of government that has the formal or practical ability toenforce constitutional norms against the Court.

As a result, it is not surprising that, throughout the history of theUnited States, the Supreme Court has presided over the sacrifice ofminority interests for majority gain.362 Perhaps the three most famousrace relations cases decided by the Supreme Court are Dred Scott,36 3

Plessy,364 and Brown.365 All three of these cases illustrate the mannerin which the Supreme Court has sacrificed racial minority interests formajority gain.

a. Dred Scott

In the Court's 1857 Dred Scott decision, the Supreme Court's sacri-fice of minority rights for majority gain was obvious. Dred Scott was aslave who sought ajudicial declaration that he had become free whenhis owner had taken him first to a free state, then to a federal territoryin which slavery had been prohibited, and finally back to the owner'soriginal slave state. 366 At stake was the issue of whether Dred Scottexisted for the benefit of Dred Scott himself, or for the benefit ofDred Scott's owner. In ruling against the slave and in favor of the

361 See Cooper v. Aaron, 358 U.S. 1, 18 (1958) (recognizing "the basic principle thatthe federal judiciary is supreme in the exposition of the law of the Constitution," andquoting Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137, 177 (1803), for proposition that "[i]tis emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is").362 For an extended argument in support of this proposition see SPANN, RACE AGAINST

THE COURT, supra note 1, at 94-99, 104-18.363 Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 398 (1856).364 Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896).365 Brown v. Board of Educ. (Brown 1), 347 U.S. 483 (1954) (rejecting separate-but-

equal iriterpretation of Equal Protection Clause of United States Constitution); see alsoBrown v. Board of Educ. (Brown 11), 349 U.S. 294, 301 (1955) (ordering desegregation ofpublic schools "with all deliberate speed").

366 See Dred Scot, 60 U.S. (19 How.) at 396-99.

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owner, the Supreme Court sacrificed the liberty interest of a blackperson in order to protect the property interest of a white person.3 67

The precise legal issue that was before the Supreme Court in DredScott was whether a black person was a "citizen" entitled to invoke di-versity jurisdiction to file suit in federal court. s68 In ruling that DredScott was not a citizen, the Court based its decision on the subhumancharacter of blacks. The language ofJustice Taney's famous opinionis as colorful as it is telling:

The words "people of the United States" and "citizens" are sy-nonymous.... The question before us is, whether [blacks are] aportion of this people.... We think they are not ... and cantherefore claim none of the rights and privileges which [the Consti-tution] provides .... On the contrary, they were at that time con-sidered as a subordinate and inferior class of beings, who had beensubjugated by the dominant race, and, whether emancipated or not,yet remained subject to their authority, and had no rights or privi-leges but such as those who held the power and the Governmentmight choose to grant them.

They had for more than a century before been regarded as be-ings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with thewhite race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior,that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect;and that the negro mightjustly and lawfully be reduced to slaveryfor his benefit.3 69

After holding that the Court lacked jurisdiction because blackscould not be considered citizens, Justice Taney went on to offer pro-nouncements about the importance of protecting the property rightsof slave holders.370 These pronouncements were gratuitous becausethe Court had just held that it lacked jurisdiction to issue them; butthey are noteworthy because the Supreme Court was willing to invali-date an Act of Congress-for only the second time in its history37 1 -in

order to implement them. The Court held that the Missouri Compro-mise,3 72 which prohibited slavery in certain portions of the Louisiana

367 See id. at 451-52.368 See id. at 400-02.369 Id. at 404-05, 407.370 See id. at 451-52.371 The first time that the Supreme Court invalidated an act of Congress was in Mar-

bury v. Madison, where it declared § 18 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 to be unconstitutional.See Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S (1 Cranch.) 137, 176-80 (1803).

372 Act of Mar. 6, 1820, 3 Stat. 545 (popularly known as Missouri Compromise).

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Purchase, 373 was unconstitutional because it interfered with the fightsof slave owners.3 74

Ultimately, the Court's pronouncements were reversed by theCivil War, and Dred Scott is now generally considered to be an embar-rassment. Justice Taney's opinion is now the emanation of a meddle-some Supreme Court justice who wrongly thought he could do abetter job than Congress of managing a political controversy. If in-deed Dred Scott is the icon of a bygone era, it is no longer cause forcontinuing concern. But if, as the meddlesome Supreme Court ac-tions that led to the Civil Rights Act of 1991 suggest,37 5 Dred Scott wasmerely the first in a tradition of racially abusive Supreme Court deci-sions, Dred Scott remains ominous.

b. Plessy

After the Civil War, ratification of the Thirteenth and FourteenthAmendments overruled Dred Scott and granted citizenship to formerblack slaves.3 76 In its 1896 decision in Plessy, the Supreme Court con-sidered the meaning of the Equal Protection Clause of the FourteenthAmendment and held that the equal protection guarantee could besatisfied by according separate-but-equal treatment to whites and ra-cial minorities. 377 In upholding a Louisiana statute that required ra-cial segregation in railroad cars,378 the Court engaged in a practicethat it has carried through to its modern race cases: It chose to con-duct constitutional analysis at the level of fictitious formalism ratherthan at the level of common knowledge realism.

In P/essy, the Court was willing to adopt the fiction that Louisi-ana's racial segregation could be equal, even though that segregationhad evolved from the same culture of slavery that the Taney Court hadsought to protect in Dred Scott. Justice Harlan emphasized in his dis-senting opinion that the invidiousness of the railroad segregation stat-ute was well known, and he prophetically predicted that Plessy wouldcome to be regarded as a decision whose perniciousness would equalthat of Dred Scott itself.379 Nevertheless, the majority chose to overlookthe common knowledge aspects of the Louisiana statute in favor ofthe statute's formal declaration of equality and race neutrality.380


LAW ANn POLITICS 107-13 (1978) (discussing Missouri Compromise and political contextout of which it arose).

374 See Dred Scott, 60 U.S. (19 How.) at 451-52.375 See supra part I1I.B.l.d (discussing 1988 Term decisions that led to Civil Rights Act

of 1991).376 See U.S. CONST. amend. XHII, X1V.377 See Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537, 544-52 (1896).378 See id. at 540-42.379 See id. at 556-57, 559-60 (Harlan, J., dissenting).380 See id. at 540, 548.

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Despite the political context out of which Plessy emerged-DredScott, followed by the Civil War, followed by the enactment of theFourteenth Amendment-the holding of Pessy was not surprising.Plessy had been presaged by the Slaughter-House Cases381 and the CivilRights Cases.382 In a move that may reflect an enduring characteristicof the Court as an institution, the Supreme Court responded to thepolitical reversal of its earlier Dred Scott decision by adopting a narrowreading of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Fourteenth Amendment is best understood as an effort tosecure the constitutionality of congressional Reconstruction statutesthat were designed to shift primary responsibility for the protection of

.minority interests from the states to the federal government after theCivil War.383 Prior to enactment of the Reconstruction amendments,there was a danger that the courts would find protective federal legis-lation to be an unconstitutional violation of the then robust doctrineof federalism. Ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment was in-tended to eliminate any potential federalism problems.38 4

Despite this history, the Supreme Court adopted a narrow con-struction of the Fourteenth Amendment. In the Slaughter-House Cases,which concerned a business monopoly and did not directly involverace, the Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment did not shiftgeneral responsibility for the protection of civil rights from the statesto the federal government. The Fourteenth Amendment merely ex-panded federal regulatory authority in matters that were closely re-lated to the protection of newly freed slaves.38 5

In the Civil Rights Cases, the Supreme Court invalidated the publicaccommodations provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1875 on thegrounds that the statute was limited to state action and could notreach private discrimination. 38 6 By imposing a state action require-ment, the Court nullified the primary purpose of the FourteenthAmendment. Because state action could be established only after ashowing that state legal protections were unavailable for claims of ra-cial discrimination, the Supreme Court effectively shifted primary re-

381 83 U.S. (16 Wall.) 36 (1872).382 109 U.S. 3 (1883).383 See STONE ET Al., supra note 1, at 481-88 (discussing history and purpose of Recon-

struction statutes and constitutional amendments).384 See id.385 See The Slaughter-House Cases, 83 U.S. (16 Wall.) 36, 70-83 (1872). Note the ten-

sion between this narrow interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment and its current,more expansive interpretation as protecting the individual interests of the white majority.See supra part III.B.l.a (discussing applications of Equal Protection Clause to white majorityin Miller v.Johnson, 115 S. Ct. 2475 (1995); Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena, 115 S. Ct.2097 (1995); Shaw v. Reno, 113 S. Ct. 2816 (1993); Metro Broadcasting, Inc. v. FCC, 497U.S. 547 (1990); and City of Richmond v.J. Croson Co., 488 U.S. 469 (1989).386 See The Civil Rights Cases, 109 U.S. 3, 8-19 (1883).

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sponsibility for the protection of minority interests back to the states,thereby undoing the fundamental purpose of the FourteenthAmendment.3


Although Plessy has come to stand for the proposition that sepa-rate treatment of the races must also be equal treatment, the languageof Plessy nowhere imposes an equality requirement388 In a sense, thisis a mere technical deficiency because the statute that the Court wasreviewing in Plessy explicitly required equal treatment in addition toseparate treatment.38 9 In another sense, however, the Court's omis-sion of an equality requirement in Plessy was prescient, because theCourt would subsequently choose to tolerate segregation require-ments without insisting on equality.390

Sometimes the Court did invalidate state segregation statutes be-cause of their failure to provide for equal treatment. In McCabe v.Atchison, Topeka & Sante Fe Railway Co.,391 for example, the Court in-validated a railroad segregation statute that accorded lower quality ac-commodations to minorities than to whites because of minimalminority demand.3 92 On other occasions, however, the Court refusedto recognize inequality of segregated facilities as a basis for invalidat-ing segregation laws under the Equal Protection Clause. In Cummingv. County Board of Education,3 93 the Court rejected an equal protectionchallenge by minority taxpayers to a tax assessment that was used tosupport a segregated white high school after the school district hadclosed the only black high school in the area. As a result, both blacksand whites were required to pay to support the white high school, butonly whites were permitted to attend it.3 9 4

Interestingly, the Cumming opinion was written by Justice Harlan,the mild dissenter in Pessy.395 Although the post-Pessy cases were in-consistent with respect to whether constitutionally permissible sepa-rate treatment also had to be equal treatment, Brown ultimatelyresolved this inconsistency ... establishing unequivocally that equalitywould not be required.

387 See STONE ET AL., supra note 1, at 485-88 (discussing fundamental change in Four-teenth Amendment caused by the Civil Rights Cases).388 See id. at 490-92 (discussing absence of "equality" requirement in Pessy).389 See Plessy, 163 U.S. at 540 (quoting statutory requirement for "equal but separate

accommodations").390 See generally STONE Ex AL., supra note 1, at 490-92 (discussing cases implementing

Plessy without insisting on equality of treatment).391 235 U.S. 151 (1914).392 See id. at 160-62.393 175 U.S. 528 (1899).394 See id. at 541-45.395 See id. at 541 (majority opinion by Harlan, J.); Plessy, 163 U.S. at 552 (Harlan, J.,


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c. Brown

Brown v. Board of Education is commonly offered as the case thatproves the institutional ability of the Supreme Court to resistmajoritarian pressures and to protect minority rights.396 Brown over-ruled the separate-but-equal reading of the Fourteenth Amendmentthat was adopted in PlessyP97 and required the desegregation of publicschools "with all deliberate speed. g398 Accordingly, Brown is generallyinterpreted as having negated the obvious racial prejudice of the Ta-ney Court in Dred Scott, and as having corrected the misguided con-ception of equality to which the Court succumbed in Plessy. However,Brown did none of these things. It did not desegregate the publicschools, and it certainly did not overrule Plessy.

Brown was decided over forty years ago, yet many public schoolsare still segregated. One-third of black public school students in theUnited States still attend all-black schools, and sixty-three percent at-tend schools that are at least half black.3 99 The reason that the publicschools have not been desegregated is that the Supreme Court lost itsresolve as popular support for desegregation dissipated.

Professor Bell has argued that when Brown was decided, it was notthe countermajoritarian decision that it is publicly heralded to havebeen.40 0 Rather, he argues, the Brown decision reflected a nationalcoalition of majoritarian interests that converged on the desirability ofimposing school desegregation on the South. The interests of blackswho desired integrated education, whites who saw southern segrega-

396 See, e.g., Akhil R. Amar, The Bill of Rights as a Constitution, 100 YALE LJ. 1131, 1133

(1991) ("Living in the shadow of Brown," we have come to view state officials as a threat to

individual and minority rights, and federal courts as "the special guardians" of thoserights.); James 0. Freedman, The Law as Educator, 70 IowA L. REv. 487, 494 (1985) ("law

reinforced and validated the movement toward greater civil rights for minority citizens byexpressing the values of equality in the landmark legislation and court decisions of the1950's and 1960's, particularly Brown v. Board of Education and the Civil Rights Act of

1964"); Stephen Girard, 66 YALE L.J. 979, 981 (1957) ("In Brown v. Board of Education, the

Court, speaking the conscience of a majority of the nation, took a giant step in the evolu-tion of full equality for the Negroes."); Harold A. McDougall, Social Movements, Law, andImplementation: A Clinical Dimension for the New Legal Process, 75 CORNELL L. REv. 83, 113n.202 (1989) ("According to Professor Sherry, the Warren Court was the mirror oppositeof the Burger Court, intervening as in Brown I to prevent minority rights from beingsubordinated to the will of the majority") (citing Suzanna Sherry, Issue Manipulation by theBurger Court: Saving the Community from ltself, 70 MiNN. L. Ray. 611, 652 (1986)); Sharon K.

Mollman, The Gender Gap: Separating the Sexes in Public Education, 68 IND. LJ. 149, 156 n.51(1992) ("Forced exclusion was a motivating factor in Brown v. Board of Education [citationomitted] where the Court, reacting to a history of segregation forced upon the black mi-nority by the white majority, denounced 'separate but equal' education.").397 See Brown v. Board of Educ. (Brown 1), 347 U.S. 483 (1954).398 See Brown v. Board of Educ. (Brown 11), 349 U.S. 294 (1955).399 See STONE ET AL., supra note 1, at 530.400 See Bell, supra note 1, at 91-106; see also Mary L. Dudziak, Desegregation as a Cold War

Imperative, 41 STAN. L. REv. 61 (1988).

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don as a threat to national economic growth, and foreign policy advo-cates who viewed southern segregation as a liability in the competitionwith communism for control over the third world, all converged tofavor the desegregation of southern schools.

The South, of course, objected to desegregation, but-reminis-cent of Reconstruction-the national majority cared little about paro-chial southern interests. Once the desegregation effort began tomove north, however, the national coalition supporting school deseg-regation crumbled, and the Supreme Court halted the desegregationprocess.40' Because de facto northern school segregation tended tobe a product of residential segregation rather than dejure state laws,the Court was able to curtail unpopular northern desegregation bydeclining to remedy de facto segregation,40 2 by refusing to order in-terdistrict desegregation remedies,40 3 and by tolerating unequal fund-ing between inner-city and suburban schools. 40 4 Far fromdemonstrating that the Supreme Court can withstand majoritarianpressures and protect minority rights, Brown's failure to desegregatenorthern schools indicates the coextensiveness of Supreme Court pro-tection and majority support.40 5

Brown is commonly cited as the case that overruled Pessy, but thatcharacterization is also inaccurate. Although Brown did preclude for-mal separate-but-equal government conduct, it also reaffirmed Plessyin two important respects. First, Brown reaffirmed Pessy's applicationof constitutional analysis at the level of fictitious formalism ratherthan at the level of common knowledge realism. Because Brown re-quired the replacement of dual school systems with unitary systems,'40


it is now formally correct that most public schools in the United Stateshave finally been desegregated. The common knowledge reality thatmany urban schools are still severely segregated is simply irrelevant asa formal matter, just as the invidious nature of the Louisiana railroadsegregation law was formally irrelevant in Plessy.407

Second, Brown reaffirmed Plessy's omission of an equality require-ment. Professor Seidman has argued that the Brown decision was nec-essary to save the nation from the implications of a separate-but-equaldoctrine that had a real equality component.408 If public schools, forexample, were to be accorded equal funding regardless of the race of

401 See SPANN, RACE AGAINST THE COURT, supra note 1, at 78-80, 108-09 (chartingSupreme Court's reluctance to extend desegregation effort to northern schools).

402 Cf. Keyes v. School Dist. No. 1, 413 U.S. 189 (1973).403 See Milliken v. Bradley, 418 U.S. 717 (1974).404 See San Antonio Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 1 (1973).405 See Bell, supra note 1, at 98-102.406 See Brown v. Board of Educ. (Brown 11), 349 U.S. 294, 301 (1955).407 See supra part III.B.2.b (discussing Pessy).408 See Seidman, supra note 1, at 686-717.

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the students who attended them, the majority would be confrontedwith a threat to its "liberal individualism" that would be politically un-acceptable.40 9 In contemporary American culture, the concept ofequal educational funding for white and minority students is un-fathomable, and Supreme Court imposition of such a requirement isunimaginable. Brown, however, relieved the Supreme Court of anyobligation to require actual equality. By defining equality for equalprotection purposes to consist of formal integration, Brown enabledthe Supreme Court to avoid the abandonment of majoritarian con-cerns simply to aid racial minorities.

Both Dred Scott and P/esy offer strong support for the propositionthat the Supreme Court is willing to sacrifice the interests of racialminorities in order to benefit the majority. Although it is easy to con-sign those two cases to the dark side of American history and to arguethat they are not relevant to the contemporary racial attitudes of theSupreme Court, a proper understanding of Brown indicates that this issimply untrue. The present Court is just as committed to the protec-tion of majority interests at the expense of minority interests as werethe Dred Scott and Plessy Courts. The details may have changed as thesocial acceptability of overt discrimination has changed, but withinthe range of whatever discrimination is culturally tolerable at anygiven point in time, the Supreme Court can be counted on to performritualistic sacrifices of minority interests as those sacrifices becomenecessary for the well being of the majority.

The racially disparate impact of the current Court's standing de-cisions merely serves as a recent example of the Court's majoritarianrole. Combined with the other evidence concerning Supreme Courtracial predispositions that is available, cases like Northeastern Floridademonstrate that the Supreme Court not only engages in intentionaldiscrimination that is theoretically unconstitutional, but that theCourt's intentional discrimination is as traditional as it isunconstitutional.


The present Supreme Court is very stingy on the issue of stand-ing. If a plaintiff wishes to use federal litigation to force program-matic changes on government, the court-led by Justice Scalia-islikely to view that litigation as an illegitimate request for judicial inter-vention into the political process, and is likely to deny the plaintiffstanding on redressability-related grounds. That is not an insupporta-ble view of the Supreme Court's governmental role. The problem is

409 See id. at 709-15.

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that the Court is stingier on standing for racial minorities than for thewhite majority.

When minority plaintiffs file programmatic challenges to govern-ment actions alleged to be racially discriminatory, they typically takethe form of a challenge to a pattern and practice of official discrimina-tion. The Supreme Court regularly dismisses such actions because oftheir programmatic nature. However, when white plaintiffs fileprogrammatic challenges to government actions alleged to be raciallydiscriminatory, they typically take the form of a challenge to the legal-ity of an affirmative action program that benefits minorities at the ex-pense of the majority. And the Court almost always permits suchactions to be maintained.

This discriminatory approach to standing was most pronouncedin Northeastern Florida, in which the Supreme Court strained to allow awhite plaintiff affirmative action challenge despite serious standingdefects. Although the Court explicitly addressed the minority plaintiffdiscrimination cases that it had dismissed for lack of standing in thepast, it nevertheless chose to grant standing to the white plaintiff inNortheastern Florida. In so doing, the Court not only recognized, butratified and perpetuated the racially disparate impact of its standingdecisions.

The racially disparate impact of the Court's standing decisions isso striking that it would almost certainly violate Tide VII of the CivilRights Act of 1964 if that statute applied to Supreme Court decision-making. Moreover, the Court's decisions also seem to violate theSupreme Court's own interpretation of the Equal Protection Clausebecause other evidence of Supreme Court racial attitudes indicatesthat the Court is engaged in intentional racial discrimination.

Although the Supreme Court may be violating the spirit of itsown antidiscrimination laws, the Court is effectively immune from thecommands of both statutes and constitutional provisions. Because theCourt decides what the law is, the Court can always expound the lawin a way that permits the Court to do whatever the Court is doing.This unique position makes the Supreme Court the ideal social insti-tution to trade off minority interests for majority gain. In pronounc-ing the need for nondiscriminatory societal behavior, the Court canengage in the very discrimination that the Court denounces, therebypermitting the majority to have its cake and eat it too.

The Supreme Court has served this veiled majoritarian functionsince the Republic began. Dred Scott illustrates the minority exploita-tion phenomenon explicitly; Pessy demonstrates that the Court willcamouflage its exploitation when blatant exploitation becomes un-palatable; and Brown demonstrates that, when necessary, the camou-

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fiage can become so subtle and elaborate that even minorities may failto detect the depths of their own exploitation.

Notwithstanding these observations, the thing that is most strik-ing about the tradition of Supreme Court racial discrimination is itsutter irrelevance. Whether one focuses on the technicalities of stand-ing or the merits of civil rights decisions, everyone undoubtedly recog-nizes that the Court's racial attitudes have had a significant impact onthe Court's race-related decisions. But no one seems to care. North-eastern Florida is written as if the case were about injury, redressability,and causation, rather than about the Supreme Court's perpetuationof racial subordination, and we are eager to accept the charade. Thisis like arguing that Dred Scott was about property rights, or that Plessywas about deference to the legislature. However, the condemnationthat has come to characterize those earlier decision has yet to taintNortheastern Florida. We continue to discuss and even conceptualizeissues of contemporary racial justice as if the reality of their opera-tional existence corresponded to the doctrinal formality that those is-sues are accorded by courts.

This transposition of race, from operational reality to doctrinalformality, is a necessary incident of Supreme Court adjudication.Courts cannot confront real life. They can only confront cold recordsthat have been filtered through evidentiary rules and legal presump-tions. However, the slippage that occurs between operational exis-tence and doctrinal formality is sufficient to permit a culture thatsubsists on racial subordination to conceive of itself as racially just.Supreme Court adjudication is instrumental in this process because itinstitutionalizes the distractions that are necessary to make a benignaccount of our racial difficulties plausible.

When the Supreme Court, therefore, holds that whites havestanding to challenge racial equality, but that minorities lack standingto challenge racial discrimination, the Court is merely playing out thesocial role that we have prescribed for it. The Supreme Court is con-tinuing to perform the function that it has performed so admirablythroughout its history.

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