Volume 39, Issue 1

Interview: Amicus Curiae Brief of the Family of Heman Sweatt in Support of Appellees in Fisher v. University of Texas

We were hugely aided by the fact that Gary Lavergne had written a short history about Heman Sweatt before we started on this. It is called Before Brown: Heman Sweatt, Thurgood Marshall, and the Long Road to Justice. In the course of writing Before Brown, Gary became close with Heman Sweatt’s descendants. Our first working day on this was to go to Austin, visit with the folks at UT, and understand their positions in the […]

Amicus Curiae Brief of the Family of Heman Sweatt in Support of Appellees in Fisher v. University of Texas

Amici curiae are the daughter and nephews of Heman Marion Sweatt, who in 1946 was denied admission to The University of Texas Law School for one reason: “the fact that he is a negro.” Texas law forbade UT from considering any of his other qualities: not his intelligence, not his determination, not the grit he gained living under and fighting Jim Crow. In 1950 – four years before Brown v. Board of Education – this […]

Lessons from the Memphis 13: What 13 First-Graders Have to Teach About Law, Life, and the Legacy of Brown

Fifty years after desegregating schools in Memphis as first graders, the pioneering students shared their stories for the first time. The resulting film, The Memphis 13 (2011), brought a largely overlooked episode in the civil rights movement into the broader movement narrative. In this essay, the film’s director – who also happens to be a law professor – combines a first-person account of the intellectual journey involved in meeting the pioneering students and their families […]

Enfranchising Persons with Disabilities: Continuing Problems, an Old Statute, and a New Litigation Strategy

Despite modern improvements, voting continues to present barriers for persons with disabilities. A 2012 study estimates that voter turnout for persons with disabilities is eleven percent lower than non-disabled voters. Many voting locations are not accessible, deterring voters from the polls. Voting machines are often outdated and present unique difficulties to persons with disabilities. Even if they are able to get to a voting location and inside a voting booth, voters are often forced to […]

The Geography of Mercy: An Empirical Analysis of Clemency for Death Row Inmates

Conventional wisdom notes persistent regional differences in the application of the death penalty, with southern states’ appetite for capital punishment exceeding that of non-southern states. Scholars analyzing the distributions of death sentences and state executions find a geographic influence. Less explored, however, is a possible regional difference in the distribution of executive clemency even though clemency is an integral component of a criminal justice system that includes capital punishment. If geography influences the distribution of […]