Carla D. Pratt
Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, Nancy J. LaMont Faculty Scholar and Professor of Law
J.D., Howard University
B.A., Texas A&M, Commerce
Constitutional Law II
Federal Indian Law
Race, Racism, and American Law
In every law course I teach, I am mindful that law is not a set of neutral principles but rather a set of rules that reflect value choices and emerge in a social, political, and economic context. I believe that in order to understand the doctrines that emerge from case law, law students and ultimately lawyers, must appreciate the real world context of cases as well as the interdisciplinary nature of many problems that law seeks to address.
My research and writing reflects my interest in the intersection of race and the law with particular interest in the use of constitutional jurisprudence to achieve racial equality. I am also interested in the legal profession’s duty to ensure equal access to justice, and the role of law in constructing and maintaining racial identity. By exploring cognitive psychology, educational theory, and other social science literature, we can better understand how race operates to subordinate some groups in our society, and subsequently fashion appropriate remedies aimed at achieving racial equality. I share the belief of former Supreme Court Justices Blackmun and Marshall, that in order to alleviate racial inequality in America, we must take account of race rather than ignore it.
I subscribe to the “obligation thesis” which states that every lawyer as an officer of the court and administrator of justice has a professional obligation to ensure that all members of society have access to justice regardless of their ability to pay for a lawyer’s services. To ensure access to justice, lawyers should provide free legal assistance to those who cannot afford to pay a lawyer. I believe that no lawyer is exempt from this obligation and that those who cannot personally provide free representation have an obligation to provide financial support to the lawyers and programs that do provide such services.
Our law school is a community that welcomes students from all walks of life. We seek to make everyone feel included in the educational process, and we value all members of our community. All of our professors have an open door policy which invites you to visit with them outside the classroom to gain a better understanding of the material. Our administrative team is also committed to your success, and we strive to make law school a positive experience by providing you with the academic, financial, and professional support you need to succeed.
I believe that law professors should be scholars who are engaged with the legal profession. I stay engaged with the practice of law by serving as a tribal court justice for the Standing Rock Sioux Supreme Court. The court is in session four times per year and hears all types of appeals ranging from civil to criminal. My service on the court affords one law student the opportunity to serve as my law clerk for a one year term.
Although there isn’t an athletic bone in my body, I enjoy sporting events and playing golf. I am also admittedly a “foodie” who enjoys cooking and entertaining. I drag myself to the gym or a yoga class to try to stay fit, although it’s becoming harder with each passing year. My two favorite things are Broadway shows and spa days.
“The End of Indeterminacy in Affirmative Action,” 48 Val. U. L. Rev. 535 (2014).
“Judging Identity,” 36 T. Jefferson L. Rev. 83 (2014).
“Sisters in Law: Black Women Lawyers’ Struggle for Advancement,” 2012 Mich. St. L. Rev. 1777 (2012)
“Loving in Indian Territory: Tribal Miscegenation Law in Historical Perspective,” in Loving v. Virginia in a Post-Racial World: Rethinking Race, Sex, and Marriage (Kevin Noble Maillard & Rose Cuison Villazor eds., 2012)
The End of the Pipeline: A Journey of Recognition for African Americans Entering the Profession of Law (with Dr. Dorothy Evensen) (2011)
“Way to Represent: The Role of Black Lawyers in Contemporary American Democracy,” 77 Fordham L. Rev. 1409 (2009)
“Loving, Indian Style: Maintaining Racial Caste and Tribal Sovereignty Through Sexual Assimilation,” 2007 Wisc. L. Rev. 409 (2007)