Putting Down: Expressive Subordination and Equal Protection

Jeffrey S. Helmreich

affiliation not provided to SSRN

March 15, 2012

UCLA Law Review Discourse Vol. 59:112 (2012)

William M. Carter, Jr., divides race-conscious policies into those that concretely disadvantage minorities and those that do not subordinate them at all, but merely express the policymaker’s race-consciousness. The main aim of this article is to introduce a third category that his dichotomy excludes: race-conscious policies that amount to expressive subordination. To subordinate people expressively is to treat them as inferior, even when doing so imposes no concrete disadvantage. For example, state action that targets racial minorities in an insulting way (such as granting them free assimilation programs or directing police to discreetly check their license plates) constitutes expressive subordination, regardless of what further harm it inflicts. And, I argue, strict equal protection scrutiny is no less appropriate for such policies than for more concrete forms of racial subordination.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 16

Keywords: speech, expression, equal protection, expressive harm, affirmative action, government speech, jurisprudence

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Date posted: April 11, 2012  

Suggested Citation

Helmreich, Jeffrey S., Putting Down: Expressive Subordination and Equal Protection (March 15, 2012). UCLA Law Review Discourse Vol. 59:112 (2012). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2038101

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