SMU Law Review


One of the pleasures of contributing to symposia—especially symposia where each contribution is brief—is the ability to engage in new explorations, test new ideas, and offer new provocations. I do that now in this essay about race, architecture, and criminal justice. I begin by discussing how race is imbricated in the architecture of courthouses, the quintessential place of supposed justice. I then take race and architecture a step further. If we think of architecture expansively—Lawrence Lessig’s definition of architecture as “the physical world as we find it” comes to mind—then it becomes clear that race is also imbricated in the very architecture of the Fourth Amendment. All of this raises an interesting question: If the very architecture of the Fourth Amendment is the problem—not just its interpretation but its very design—what are we to do?

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