A symposium at the University of Virginia School of Law will explore how a U.S. Supreme Court ruling has shaped clashes over equity in education, both past and present.

“50 Years After San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez: New and Old Fights for Equity in Public Schools,” hosted by the Virginia Law Review Online, will be held Feb. 17.

In 1973, the Supreme Court held in Rodriguez that relying on property taxes to fund public schools does not violate the Equal Protection Clause — even if schools in the same state have radically different funding levels — because there is no fundamental right to education in the U.S. Constitution.

“With debates about public schooling increasingly becoming a microcosm of larger political and social issues, we are interested in contextualizing these struggles and thinking creatively about ways to forge a more just and equitable system,” the Virginia Law Review editors said in a press release.

At the conference, scholars and civil rights lawyers will discuss school choice litigation, the role of the federal government in education and free speech in the classroom, among other topics.

St. Mary’s University law professor Albert Kauffman will deliver the keynote address at 10:15 a.m. in Caplin Pavilion. Kauffman served as senior litigating attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund in Texas for 20 years. He represented the plaintiff in Rodriguez, Demetrio Rodriguez, and others in a number of influential state court cases on the same issue following the Supreme Court decision. Kauffman has also served as a senior legal and policy advocate at Harvard Law School and the University of California, Berkeley.

Following Kauffman’s talk, Arizona State University law professor David Gartner, Rutgers University law professor Earl M. Maltz and Gerard Robinson, a Fellow of Practice at UVA’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, will present papers. UVA Law professor Kimberly Jenkins Robinson will also participate in a conversation on the case. She is the co-editor of “The Enduring Legacy of Rodriguez: Creating New Pathways to Equal Educational Opportunity” and the editor of “A Federal Right to Education: Fundamental Questions for Our Democracy.”

The conference will close with remarks by Patricia Rodriguez, whose father sued to improve her education five decades ago.

Full Schedule and Registration

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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