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The Rise and Fall of Supreme Court Concern for Racial Minorities

This Article was written in connection with "Confronting the Promise," a conference honoring the fortieth anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education. The conference, which was sponsored by the Howard University School of Law and the Institute of Bill of Rights Law of the College of William and Mary, was held on May 17, 1994. I added two footnotes after I completed the original Article: note 169 refers to Supreme Court decisions rendered after the conference, but before the end of the October 1993 Term. I did not make any other attempts to update the Article. Thus, I have not included references to the published versions of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings regarding Justice Ginsburg's confirmation. I inserted the name of Justice Breyer at several places in the Article in which I had originally used the phrase "whomever is appointed to replace Justice Blackmun." I did not make any attempt to predict how Justice Breyer might vote in, or affect, future Supreme Court decisions involving racial minorities. But I must express here my hope that Judge Breyer's opinion in Latino Political Action Comm., Inc. v. City of Boston, 784 F.2d 409 (lst Cir. 1986), in which he took what I would describe as a Rehnquist Court like view of the Voting Rights Act even before the Supreme Court had forced the lower federal courts to do so, is not indicative of how he will vote in Supreme Court cases that involve the interests of minority race voters.