Race and the Law in the Genomic Age: A Problem for Equal Treatment Under the Law

The Oxford Handbook on Law and Technology, Forthcoming

46 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2015 Last revised: 12 Jun 2016

Robin Bradley Kar

University of Illinois College of Law

John Lindo

University of Chicago Department of Human Genetics

Date Written: July 12, 2015

Abstract

This is the “Age of Genomics”, and yet people who study race and the law often resist integrating biological insights into their understanding of human psychology and behavior. The historical reasons for this resistance are understandable, but the biological sciences have been going through a recent renaissance, which creates a contemporary problem of translation. This chapter explains why the appropriate response of the law to recent developments in the evolutionary and biological sciences is to recognize that there is more, rather than less, cause for concern with respect to how racial concepts typically function in the law. The short reason is twofold. First, belief in race is prone to function in ways that are far more prejudicial than probative of most issues relevant to criminal or civil liability. Second, racial concepts function automatically and unconsciously, often without racial animus or discriminatory intent. Hence, current equal protection doctrine, which requires a finding of discriminatory intent and is the central mechanism for guaranteeing the equal treatment of persons under the law, is poorly suited to make that guarantee.

Keywords: race, genetics, genomics, wade, racism, folk biology, evolutionary psychology, equal protection, affirmative action, evolution, unconscious racism, implicit bias, inequality, in-group, out-group, biology, population genetics, y-haplogroup

Suggested Citation

Kar, Robin Bradley and Lindo, John, Race and the Law in the Genomic Age: A Problem for Equal Treatment Under the Law (July 12, 2015). The Oxford Handbook on Law and Technology, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2629819

Robin Bradley Kar (Contact Author)

University of Illinois College of Law ( email )

504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.uiuc.edu/faculty-admin/directory/RobinKar

John Lindo

University of Chicago Department of Human Genetics ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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