Stacy Hawkins

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African-Americans were inspired by the election of Barack Obama as the first African-American President of the United States. Women were energized by even the prospect of electing the first female President of the United States. Latinos expressed pride in the confirmation of Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court. And a movie was made immortalizing Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician elected to public office in the United States. This list of celebrated "firsts" goes on and on. All too often in the twenty-first century, we have either celebrated diversity among our civic leaders as a novelty, or otherwise decried their lack of diversity In the past expanded, racial and ethnic minorities have remained shut out of participation in the civic life of our nation. This disparity between the pluralism of our population and the pluralism of our polity challenges our fundamental democratic ideal of "government of the people, by the people, for the people." This Article attempts to answer the question of whether our Constitution's promise of "equal protection of the laws" offers any guarantee against this yawning racial and ethnic gap between the governing and the governed. If all persons alike do not get to share in the promise of liberty and equality described in the introductory quotes to this Article, some people-racial and ethnic minorities in particular-will be forever consigned to the margins of this ongoing social experiment in democracy called America. The conclusion reached is that this untenable reality is not consistent with the vision of our Constitution's guarantee of either equal protection or pluralist democracy.