This Article discusses Critical Race Theory (CRT), a legal study developed by law professors for law school education. Many, if not most, critical race theorists credit Derrick Bell as the law professor who founded and inspired CRT, and even after he died in 2011, his extensive volume of scholarship remains influential, especially among scholars of critical race and law topics. This Article examines Derrick Bell’s earliest law review articles’ critiques of civil rights laws, his Interest Convergence theory, and his assessment that racism is systemic and permanent in the United States of America.
CRT critics broadly categorize African American history, discussions of systemic racism, and critical race and law education under the catchall phrase “Critical Race Theory” or “CRT.” CRT has been frequently critiqued in recent years (2020–2023). The Article considers how, why, and when the current opposition began. Further, the discussion addresses critics’ opposing views of Critical Race Theory. It describes criticisms that CRT is Marxist and that educators should not teach or include the subject or any material influenced by it in curricula and textbooks. The examination also observes complaints that CRT is the antithesis of a Christian worldview.
This Article directs attention to and considers Critical Race Theory in the legal academy. It discusses whether law schools should remove CRT founder Derrick Bell’s and other critical race theorists’ scholarship and all writings influenced by CRT from courses because of opponents’ criticisms. Suppose law professors take such far-reaching steps. Will law students be adequately trained to serve as future attorneys, judges, and policymakers to address critical race law issues? The discussion examines these and other vital questions.
The examination does not engage opposing views as a contentious debate, as this Article declines an argument for or against CRT. Winning a dispute on conflicting viewpoints, including whether America is presently systemically racist or whether CRT is Marxist, seems less meaningful than examining the origin and tenets of CRT, opponents’ conflicting views, and discussing potential outcomes if law professors remove topics categorized by critics as CRT from law school class discussions. After a review of Derrick Bell’s and critical race theorists’ scholarship, critics’ incompatible viewpoints of CRT, and consideration of vital questions, the Article ends by considering the law school dilemma: outcomes awaiting law professors if they follow CRT critics aim to remove case law and scholarship, discussions of systemic racism, and all influences of critical race and law issues, CRT, and founder Derrick Bell’s scholarship from law school curricula.
Cynthia Elaine Tompkins, Critical Race Theory (CRT) in the Legal Academy: Derrick Bell’s Seminal Law Review Articles and Critical Race Theorists Scholarship; CRT Opponents Conflicting Views and Potential Consequences of Critics’ Cancellation Strategy, 74 Mercer L. Rev. 1079 (2023). Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.mercer.edu/jour_mlr/vol74/iss3/10