Richard Rothstein is an American academic and author affiliated with the Economic Policy Institute, and a senior fellow, emeritus at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. His current research focuses on the history of segregation in the United States with regards to education and housing.
From 1999 until 2002, Rothstein was the national education columnist for The New York Times and had been a senior fellow at the fellow at the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at the law school of the University of California, Berkeley until it closed in 2015, and then affiliated with the Haas Institute at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.
His 2017 book, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, argues that racial housing segregation is the result of government policy at all levels—federal, state, and local. Rothstein disagreed with the prevailing view affirmed by Supreme Court in the 1973 decision Miliken v. Bradley and a subsequent 2007 decision: that housing segregation is primarily the result of private racism and decisions. A review in The New York Times said that there was "no better history" of housing segregation, while Rachel Cohen of Slate called The Color of Law "essential."
People from across the political continuum assume that residential segregation in the United States is the result of the decisions of private citizens over the decades. Scholar Richard Rothstein argues that far more damaging to the process of racial integration was a century of governmental policies that kept whites and blacks separate and unequal. He argues that the effects of these policies remain, and that these routine violations of African-Americans’ constitutional rights by the government mean that the government is morally and constitutionally obliged to right its wrongs.
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