Events & Lectures
Annual Derrick Bell Lecture
Tuesday, February 20, 2024
5:30 PM PST
110 Knight Law Center
Lecturer: Leonard M. Baynes
Dean, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Chair
University of Houston Law Center
"Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, The History of Race in School Admissions, and a Path Forward"
1.0 CLE Credit Pending
In Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, the U.S. Supreme Court found that affirmative action programs that considered race as a factor in college admissions were unconstitutional and violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
What is most fascinating about the opinion is that the Court did not totally prohibit the use of race. Chief Justice Roberts wrote the majority opinion, and he is known for his passionate views opposing the use of race in decision making.
In the Supreme Court case entitled Parents Involved, Chief Justice Roberts said that "the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race." But in the Harvard case, Chief Justice Roberts fails his clearly articulated admonition to enshrine his color-blind aspirations.
First, the Chief Justice failed to specifically state that he was overruling the prior Supreme Court affirmative action precedents of Bakke, Grutter, Gratz, or Fisher, which found diversity to be a compelling governmental interest, and race can be used as a factor in admissions.
Second, the Chief Justice also failed to specifically say that race could never be used in admissions. In fact, he allowed race to be used when the applicant raises it in the application process to describe how their race has impacted their life "so long as that discussion is concretely tied to a quality of character or unique ability that the particular applicant can contribute to the university."
Third, the Chief Justice specifically left open the question whether the U.S. military academies could use race as a factor in their admissions processes.
In a footnote Chief Justice Roberts noted: the military academy admissions had "potentially distinct interests" than other higher education admissions processes.
In this lecture, Dean Baynes will examine the historical uses of race in law school admissions, the present-day implications of the Harvard affirmative action case, and a path forward to continue to achieve racial and ethnic diversity.
Derrick Bell served as the first African American dean of the School of Law from 1980 to 1985. He is considered one of the most influential voices in the foundation of Critical Race Theory, a framework that examines society and culture as they connect to race, law, and power.
The Derrick Bell Lecture is a collaboration between the University of Oregon School of Law and the Division of Equity Inclusion. The Lecture is a part of the African American Workshop and Lecture Series, sponsored by the DEI and the Office of the President.
Past Bell Lectures
2024 Equity Challenge
Recognizing and Responding to Black Experiences
Organized by: Law School Community and Inclusion CommitteeFile Equity Challenge Calendar of Events
Rennard Strickland Lecture
Annual Rennard Strickland Lecture
The Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center (ENR), through its Native Environmental Sovereignty Project, established the Rennard Strickland Lecture series in 2006 to honor the former Oregon Law professor and dean, who retired that year and passed away in 2021. Strickland, an Osage citizen of the Cherokee Nation, was widely regarded as a national leader in Indian law and policy. His leadership helped shape the ENR and Indian Law programs at Oregon Law. In keeping with Strickland's assertion that, "[i]f there is to be a post-Columbian future – a future for any of us – it will be an Indian future" (Tonto's Revenge, 1997), the Rennard Strickland Lecture series is designed to recognize and underscore the importance of Indigenous environmental-legal leadership in the twenty-first century.
PAC-12 Access to Justice Series
Marcilynn A. Burke, Dean and Dave Frohnmayer Chair in Leadership and Law, speaks with UO’s Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Student Success and author Kimberly Johnson. Johnson’s debut novel, This is My America, will be made into a television series to stream on HBO Max.
Visit the event page for more information.
Bankruptcy and Race: A Conversation with Professor A. Mechele Dickerson
The Business Law Program welcomed Professor A. Mechele Dickerson, the Arthur L. Moller Chair in Bankruptcy Law and Practice at the University of Texas at Austin, for a discussion about racial inequities in the bankruptcy system, including how Black debtors who need bankruptcy relief are disproportionately placed in Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which is more expensive and burdensome than Chapter 7.
Mechele Dickerson, a nationally recognized scholar on consumer debt, teaches at the University of Texas School of Law and also has a courtesy appointment with the Liberal Arts Honors program at the University of Texas. She is the author of HOMEOWNERSHIP AND AMERICA'S FINANCIAL UNDERCLASS: FLAWED PREMISES, BROKEN PROMISES, NEW PRESCRIPTIONS (Cambridge 2014). Her research focuses on racial income and wealth disparities and she is currently completing a book project on the Neglected Middle Class.