Release Date: March 21, 2023
BUFFALO, N.Y. — What if a constitutional right meant to guarantee your security was actually a license to harm or even kill you? That’s the premise for the James McCormick Mitchell Lecture, the University at Buffalo School of Law’s signature lecture series, to be held April 7.
The address is titled “Race, the Supreme Court, and Police Power.”
The speaker, Devon W. Carbado, The Honorable Harry Pregerson Professor of Law at the University of California, Los Angeles, is a renowned scholar of constitutional law, criminal procedure and critical race theory. His widely acclaimed book “Unreasonable: Black Lives, Police Power, and the Fourth Amendment,” published last year, argues that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to treat unreasonable police tactics as reasonable under the Fourth Amendment has “shortened the distance between life and death for Black people.”
“Many forms of policing that people find troubling are perfectly legal under a particular body of constitutional law — Fourth Amendment doctrine,” Carbado writes. “Over the past five decades, the Supreme Court has interpreted the Fourth Amendment to allocate enormous power to the police: to surveil, to racially profile, to stop-and-frisk, and to kill.”
When: Friday, April 7, from noon to 2 p.m. A reception will follow.
Where: The Charles B. Sears Law Library in O’Brian Hall on UB’s North Campus.
Who: In addition to Carbado, the event will include a discussion with UB Law faculty members Alexandra Harrington, associate professor, and Athena Mutua, professor and Floyd H. & Hilda L. Hurst Faculty Scholar.
How to attend: The event is free and open to the public. Registration is available at law.buffalo.edu/Mitchell.
Background: “Police victimization of people of color is an obvious moral scandal,” says UB law professor Michael Boucai, chair of the law school’s Mitchell Lecture Steering Committee. “Far less evident are the legal mechanisms enabling it. That's what makes professor Carbado’s recent work so necessary. His description of the problem’s constitutional architecture is unmatched in acumen and accessibility.”
A 1994 graduate of Harvard Law School, Carbado holds the Hon. Harry Pregerson Professor of Law chair at UCLA School of Law, whose faculty he joined in 1997.
About the Mitchell lecture series: The Mitchell Lecture series was endowed in 1950 by a gift from Lavinia A. Mitchell in memory of her husband, James McCormick Mitchell. An 1897 graduate of the Buffalo Law School, Mitchell later served as chairman of the Council of the University of Buffalo, which was then a private university.
Justice Robert H. Jackson delivered the first Mitchell Lecture in 1951, titled “Wartime Security and Liberty Under Law.” The lecture was published that year in the first issue of the Buffalo Law Review.