This course might be thought of as a hybrid between a legal history seminar (that focuses on Mexican Americans) and a civil rights law seminar (that focuses on Mexican Americans). It would be of interest to students who plan to serve a predominantly Chicano/Latino client base and/or who have an intellectual interest in issues related to Mexican Americans, ethnic studies, or civil rights law and litigation.
The course begins with a brief introductory unit that introduces several concepts and themes from the social science and historical literature on Mexican Americans, with a particular emphasis on New Mexico. The second part of the course is largely historical, exploring the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (which in 1848 ended the U.S. war with Mexico) and the early 20th century history of Chicanos in the U.S.
The third (and longest) section of the course focuses on contemporary issues. We will focus on Mexican Americans as a case study to explore the successes and shortcomings of American civil rights legislation and litigation (in areas such as educational desegregation, jury service, voting rights, and English-only laws). We will read these cases critically, seeking to analyze doctrine, litigation strategies, as well as the larger social and political context in which they occurred. The reading is heavy and at times quite dense; it includes, in addition to appellate cases, law review articles, books, and book chapters from the social sciences and humanities.
This course will provide an intensive seminar experience in which students will be expected to be actively engaged in critical reading and in our weekly discussions. In addition to participation (15%), the final grade will be based on a research paper of substantial length and high quality (which will satisfy the law school writing requirement and contribute to 85% of the final grade). Papers may fall into one of two traditions: (i) the traditional law school research paper that would be modeled on a law review note format; or (ii) an empirically based research paper (probably using historical archives available at Zimmerman library or perhaps in Santa Fe), more typical of early graduate school work. Prior to submission of the final paper, students will be required to submit (in a timely fashion) the following: statement of their topic/proposed research; outline; rough draft. Students also will be required to meet individually with me at least twice during the semester to discuss their papers.