No Time for Trumpets: Title VII, Equality, and the Fin De Sièchle

My essay seeks to examine the internal architecture of the discursive barrier – the wall – that the Supreme Court has built within the doctrinal framework of Title VII and concomitantly within the discourse of equality. To understand how the Court has erected this discursive wall, we must begin with history. Equality, while historically a vehicle for national identity and contemporaneously for modernist conceptions of justice, is synchronically and diachronically indeterminate. Equality is a deeply sedimented concept with not one objective meaning but successive levels of meaning built up over time. Each of those historic understandings is itself a unity of opposites, of often contradictory interpretations constructed by interpretive communities in conflict – former slaves and former slave owners, northern Republicans and southern Democrats, employers and minorities who worked for them each viewing the moral universe through a different lens. This framework, much like an archeological dig, is organized in successive layers of structure. My project becomes one of excavation, through which I want to show how, at increasingly deeper levels of theory, equality has been torn loose from its moorings in history and how, within the remaining text of equality, competing interpretations reflecting the lived experiences of minorities have been erased.