Race and Wealth Disparity: The Role of Law and the Legal System

21 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2007

See all articles by Beverly I. Moran

Beverly I. Moran

Vanderbilt University - Law School

Stephanie M. Wildman

Santa Clara University - School of Law; The Writers Grotto


Many believe that the legal system has achieved racial neutrality because statutes and regulations do not mention race. They do not view law and the legal system as one way that American society polices race and wealth disparities. Because American law seems removed from race and wealth concerns, legal workers see no place for such considerations in their education or practice.

Although the legal system has aspired to neutrality and equality, racialized wealth inequality has resulted and continues. This article considers the aspiration and shows how equality and neutrality can veil existing wealth inequality. Using examples from judicial decisionmaking and tax law, the article illustrates how racialized wealth disparities persist.

Legal education largely ignores race, wealth, and inequality, preventing generations of lawyers from gaining deeper awareness of these issues. Access to law and the legal system is, in itself, a form of wealth that remains unequally distributed. The article appeals to legal professionals to look beyond their own discipline for solutions to the problems of race and wealth disparity.

Keywords: race, wealth, discrimination, class

Suggested Citation

Moran, Beverly I. and Wildman, Stephanie M., Race and Wealth Disparity: The Role of Law and the Legal System. Fordham Urban Law Journal, Vol. 4, No. 1219, 2007; Santa Clara Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 07-45; Vanderbilt Public Law Research Paper No. 07-27. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1020321

Beverly I. Moran (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States

Stephanie M. Wildman

Santa Clara University - School of Law ( email )

500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053
United States
408-554-5440 (Fax)

The Writers Grotto ( email )

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