40 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2006
Despite increasingly visible political conflicts between African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and other groups of color, the Supreme Court has never explicitly articulated a position on how equal protection doctrine addresses conflicts between different racial and ethnic minority groups. As a result, equal protection jurisprudence does not answer the question of whether conflict between minority groups might warrant different treatment than the more familiar conflict between whites and African Americans. This piece analyzes several of the Court's major equal protection decisions in order to challenge the traditional bipolar black-white model that dominates this jurisprudence. It reveals that the Court's current equal protection doctrine exploits the increasingly multiracial character of American society to the detriment of minority groups, subtly invoking the changing racial and ethnic nature of American society to legitimate a retreat from racial remedies and affirmative action. In this way, the nation's new awareness of minority conflict has translated, not into tools to improve minority participation, but into stronger protections for white entitlements. In response, the piece offers an alternative theoretical model of dynamic racial factionalism along Madisonian lines. Such a reinterpretation of the Equal Protection Clause would acknowledge racial group factionalism in general and the persistence of white majority influence in particular. It would better protect racial minorities against discrimination as well as facilitate the full exercise of their political rights.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Natapoff, Alexandra, Trouble in Paradise: Equal Protection and the Dilemma of Interminority Group Conflict. Stanford Law Review, Vol. 47, No. 5, May 1995; Loyola-LA Legal Studies Paper No. 2006-34. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=936987