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Adolescence, Discrimination, and the Law

Adolescence, Discrimination, and the Law: Addressing Dramatic Shifts in Equality Jurisprudence

Roger J. R. Levesque
Copyright Date: 2015
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Adolescence, Discrimination, and the Law
    Book Description:

    In the wake of the civil rights movement, the legal system dramatically changed its response to discrimination based on race, gender, and other characteristics. It is now showing signs of yet another dramatic shift, as it moves from considering difference to focusing on neutrality. Rather than seeking to counter subjugation through special protections for groups that have been historically (and currently) disadvantaged, the Court now adopts a "colorblind" approach. Equality now means treating everyone the same way.

    This book explores these shifts and the research used to support civil rights claims, particularly relating to minority youths' rights to equal treatment. It integrates developmental theory with work on legal equality and discrimination, showing both how the legal system can benefit from new research on development and how the legal system itself can work to address invidious discrimination given its significant influence on adolescents-especially those who are racial minorities-at a key stage in their developmental life.

    Adolescents, Discrimination, and the Lawarticulates the need to address discrimination by recognizing and enlisting the law's inculcative powers in multiple sites subject to legal regulation, ranging from families, schools, health and justice systems to religious and community groups. The legal system may champion ideals of neutrality in the goals it sets itself for treating individuals, but it cannot remain neutral in the values it supports and imparts. This volume shows that despite the shift to a focus on neutrality, the Court can and should effectively foster values supporting equality, especially among youth.

    eISBN: 978-1-4798-3359-7
    Subjects: Psychology, Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    Society places great hope in youth. They are seen as pivotal for addressing society’s ills, as they will be responsible for its future. For this reason, there is deep concern about the values that we as a society instill in our youth. The task of preparing them to live in a diverse society plays a crucial role in the nation’s commitment to ensuring equality and fostering justice.

    The legal system figures prominently in these efforts. The legal system addresses issues of equality and helps to instill key values, as it has the power to regulate all socializing institutions. No institution,...

  5. 1 Shifts in Equality Jurisprudence
    (pp. 13-56)

    The law’s efforts to address the discriminatory treatment of individuals raise thorny issues and countless complexities. But all of the law’s efforts necessarily rest on the United States Constitution and the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence relating to it. The Constitution’s significance emerges for two fundamental reasons. First, constitutional law sets the floor that guides the local, state, and federal governments’ development of laws. Regardless of the desires of those who seek to address social issues, the Supreme Court remains the final arbiter of the appropriateness of legal mandates as well as their application, and the Supreme Court fundamentally bases its decisions...

  6. 2 The Nature, Developmental Roots, and Alleviation of Discrimination
    (pp. 57-100)

    Discrimination is necessarily a social event. It happens in social interactions, and it involves social contexts that influence the way differential treatment based on an individual’s group status arises, manifests itself, and changes. As a result, socializing institutions become the important drivers for efforts to address the development of prejudice and responses to discrimination. Properly addressing discrimination, then, requires a close look at how social contexts can spur, sustain, and end discrimination. It requires exploring the characteristics of social forces that increase the likelihood of fostering dispositions, relationships, and institutions marked by tolerance, inclusion, and a sense of equity. Understanding...

  7. 3 Addressing Necessary Shifts in Equality Jurisprudence
    (pp. 101-122)

    Empirical evidence reveals paths forward. Notably, efforts to decrease discrimination will gain increased effectiveness if they foster structural changes supportive of equality and if they inculcate values and personal dispositions that embrace the importance of equal treatment as well as equal outcomes. These conclusions mean that equality jurisprudence must turn in different directions while remaining true to its time-tested ideals and current legal realities. Future legal efforts to address invidious disparities in opportunities and treatment must therefore focus on understanding how to further equal treatment without resorting to classification-or group-based distinctions. In practice, this means recognizing that not all groups...

  8. 4 Supporting Equality Jurisprudence’s Sites of Inculcation
    (pp. 123-194)

    The legal system may be founded on the principle of limited intrusion in our lives, but the government still serves as the dominant socializing force. The government regulates all individuals and institutions. It sets the boundaries for what can and cannot be done, both by individuals and by social institutions. Thus, despite such articulated freedoms as freedom of expression, privacy, and belief, the legal system can support practices that can increase tolerance, alleviate subjugation, and permit rigorous respect for diversity without resorting to group classifications to achieve those ends.

    The reach of the government cannot be underestimated. Given that traditional...

  9. 5 Harnessing Developmental Science to Broaden Equality Jurisprudence
    (pp. 195-236)

    To effectively address inequality, we must structure systems that foster the development and expression of values that embrace equality. Rather than find that our legal system rejects the inculcation of such values as it regulates social institutions and organizations, the preceding analysis identified numerous arenas devoted to their inculcation and multiple ways that permit their support. But they are currently underemphasized. These findings mean that a broader approach to equality jurisprudence not only must address the same contexts of current legal approaches to equality but also must advocate a different view of the legal system’s role. In addition to focusing...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 237-244)

    People need encouragement to do the right thing. They need guidance and opportunities to make appropriate decisions. That is the fundamental problem with the Supreme Court’s current vision of the Constitution’s approach to addressing discrimination. Its vision largely does not encourage, guide, or provide opportunities for the prevention or remedying of discrimination. True, its vision may well be legally correct, as it makes sense if we follow the lines of cases supporting it. But that does not necessarily make it right.

    Essentially, the Court no longer actively supports equality. It views the Constitution’s equal protection mandate as requiring the legal...

    (pp. 245-266)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 267-276)
    (pp. 277-277)