John Calmore's America

31 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2008

See all articles by Robert S. Chang

Robert S. Chang

Seattle University School of Law

Catherine E. Smith

University of Denver Sturm College of Law


In their contribution to this symposium honoring Professor John Calmore, Professors Robert Chang and Catherine Smith analyze the recent school desegregation case, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, through the lens of Professor Calmore's work. In particular, they locate this case as part of what Professor Calmore calls the Supreme Court Racial Project. Understood as a political project that reorganizes and redistributes resources along racial lines, the Supreme Court Racial Project creates a jurisprudence around race that solidifies the work of the new right and neoconservatives. Borrowing from Calmore's methodology, Professors Chang and Smith clarify the unspoken past in Parents Involved; challenge the paradigmatic present embodied in its plurality opinion; and then envision the uncreated future. In narrating the unspoken past, Professors Chang and Smith focus on Seattle. They examine the way that segregated neighborhoods and schools were created at the national level and in Seattle. They pay particular attention to the different histories of the different racial groups to show how a segregated Seattle was created and how the Seattle of today, though having a greater level of integration than before, remains a city where Whites are the most racially isolated group, which in turn produces a Seattle with largely segregated schools. In challenging this paradigmatic present, Professors Chang and Smith critique the way that housing choices that produce segregated outcomes is shielded from constitutional scrutiny are labeled as private choice, a characterization that is part of what Calmore criticizes as the neoconservative colorblind constitution. As they envision the uncreated future, Professors Chang and Smith draw from Professor Calmore's work on coalition building in a multiracial, multicultural world. They discuss the challenges that lie in store for people of color and for Whites. For people of color, one challenge is moving beyond the Black-White racial paradigm; for Whites, a primary challenge, one that is often overlooked, is overcoming White racial bonding. They argue that Professor Calmore's methodology - clarifying the unspoken past, critiquing the paradigmatic present, and envisioning the uncreated future - can help us to figure out what must be done to achieve the kind of America that is consistent with its best aspirations, the kind of America that Professor Calmore has worked so hard to achieve.

Suggested Citation

Chang, Robert S. and Smith, Catherine E., John Calmore's America. North Carolina Law Review, Forthcoming, U Denver Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-09, Loyola-LA Legal Studies Paper No. 2008-4, Available at SSRN:

Robert S. Chang (Contact Author)

Seattle University School of Law ( email )

901 12th Avenue, Sullivan Hall
P.O. Box 222000
Seattle, WA n/a 98122-1090
United States

Catherine E. Smith

University of Denver Sturm College of Law ( email )

2255 E. Evans Avenue
Denver, CO 80208
United States

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