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New Book by Professor Mark S. Weiner Considers the Legal Status of Racial Minorities in the 19th & 20th Centuries

Looks at key role of social science concepts in defining citizenship

June 28, 2006 – 
“Juridical racialism,” a public language that characterized racial minorities in terms of their inherent ability to uphold legal norms, shaped many of the court decisions that limited the civic participation of certain minority groups in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. So argues Mark S. Weiner, Professor of Law at Rutgers School of Law–Newark, in his new book, Americans Without Law: The Racial Boundaries of Citizenship, published this month by NYU Press. As a manuscript, the book received the 2001 President’s Book Award from the Social Science History Association, which called it “a superb example of interdisciplinary scholarship.” 

The book considers the impact of “juridical racialism,” a term coined by Weiner, on political debates and U.S. Supreme Court decisions about the legal status of five minority groups – American Indians in the 1880s, Puerto Ricans and Filipinos in the 1900s, Asian immigrants in the 1920s, and African-Americans in the 1940s and 1950s. Weiner argues that, through its close connection with anthropology and related fields in the social sciences that examine human difference, juridical racialism played a significant role in helping the U.S. to manage its civic boundaries in ways that furthered national economic growth. 

Weiner is also the author of Black Trials: Citizenship from the Beginnings of Slavery to the End of Caste (Knopf, 2004), the winner of a 2005 Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association. The award is the ABA’s highest honor in recognition of communications media that have helped to foster the American public’s understanding of the law and the legal system. Weiner holds a J.D. and a Ph.D. in American studies from Yale and an A.B. from Stanford. A member of the Rutgers faculty since 2001, he teaches Constitutional Law, Professional Responsibility, and Legal History.