Critical Race Praxis: Race Theory and Political Lawyering Practice in Post-Civil Rights America

At the end of the twentieth century, the legal status of Chinese Americans in San Francisco’s public schools turns on a requested judicial finding that a desegregation order originally designed to dismantle a system subordinating nonwhites now invidiously discriminates against Chinese Americans. Brian Ho, Patrick Wong, and Hilary Chen, plaintiffs in Ho v. San Francisco Unified School District, represent “all [16,000] children of Chinese descent” eligible to attend San Francisco’s public schools. Their high-profile suit, filed by small-firm attorneys, challenges the validity of a 1983 judicial consent decree desegregating San Francisco’s schools. Approved in response to an NAACP class action charging educational discrimination by whites, the consent decree mandates racial and ethnic diversity in student bodies and sets for each “magnet” school a forty-percent cap for students from any racial or ethnic group. Early on, Chinese Americans benefited from the decree’s diversity mandate, substantially increasing their enrollments.