In the United States following the case of Brown v. Board of Education (1954) federal judges with responsibility for public school desegregation but no expertise in education or schools management appointed experts from the social sciences to act as court advisors. In Boston, MA, educational sociologists helped Judge W. Arthur Garrity design a plan with educational enhancement at its heart, but the educational outcomes were marginalized by a desegregation jurisprudence conceptualized in terms of race rather than education. This Article explores the frustration of outcomes in Boston by reference to the differing conceptualizations of desegregation in law and social science. It argues that whereas social scientists see desegregation in terms of social change requiring integration, for lawyers desegregation is a remedy the content of which is shaped by the nature of the litigation. The imperatives of law and social science have in the past coincided in a jurisprudence of affirmative action but the recent school assignment cases demonstrate the extent to which they have now diverged. This divergence underlies the indeterminacy of the desegregation mandate and provides an analytical framework for a theory of the role of the court expert in schools desegregation.
Anne Richardson Oakes,
From Pedagogical Sociology to Constitutional Adjudication: The Meaning of Desegregation in Social Science Research and Law,
Mich. J. Race & L.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjrl/vol14/iss1/2