Law school symposium reflects on impact of Buchanan v. Warley

The cover of the Supreme Court’s Buchanan v. Warley ruling

The centennial of a landmark civil rights case in Kentucky will be marked next month with a symposium at the University of Louisville.
The Brandeis School of Law will hold the program, titled “Racial Justice in Zoning: 100 Years after Buchanan,” on Friday, November 10.
The symposium will reflect on Buchanan v. Warley, which the Supreme Court used as a vehicle to strike down the Louisville’s race-based zoning ordinance decades before the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s.
The high court, which handed down its unanimous ruling on November 5, 1917, held that the city’s prohibition on the sale of real property to blacks in white-majority neighborhoods violated 14th amendment protections.
The symposium will explore current racial injustices in land use, housing, and environmental conditions, as well as the history of race and zoning in the United States and Louisville. It will feature presentations by eight nationally recognized scholars, four from the University of Louisville and four from other universities, as well as a presentation on redlining in Louisville.
The speakers include Jeana Dunlap, director of redevelopment strategies for Louisville Forward; Michael Lens, assistant professor of urban planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs; Michael Wolf, the Richard E. Nelson Chair in Local Government and Law and professor of law at the University of Florida, and Laura Rothstein, professor of law at the Brandeis School of Law, who also will touch on Louis Brandeis and how Louisville shaped his principles and values.
The issues addressed by the symposium to continue be relevant in the Jewish community, Rothstein said.
“Restrictive covenants and private deed restrictions were used to discriminate against racial minorities and Jewish people,” she said. “While such restrictions were struck down as unconstitutional decades ago, housing practices with discriminatory effect and illegal practices that may be difficult to challenge continue to limit access to equal housing opportunities.”
Lars Smith, interim dean of the Brandeis School of Law, will deliver the opening remarks.
The symposium is sponsored by the Brandeis School of Law, with support from the Caudill-Little Speakers Fund. The Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research at the University of Louisville is co-sponsoring.
The symposium, free and open to the public, includes a light breakfast at approximately 8:30 a.m. and a lunch at approximately 1 p.m., both on a first-come, first-served basis. To confirm attendance, contact Tracie Cole at or 502-852-1230.

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