The Penn Program on Regulation’s podcast, Race and Regulation, focuses on the most fundamental responsibility of any society: ensuring equal justice, and dignity and respect, to all people.
Over the 10-episode podcast series, listen as leading scholars uncover how government regulations across a wide range of areas—including voting rights, child welfare, banking, land use, and more—have contributed to racial inequities, as well as how regulatory changes could help build a more just society.
The podcast series features today’s foremost experts working on issues at the intersection of law, race, and public policy. Each episode is described below, and a link to each new episode will be added as it is published, approximately every two weeks throughout the summer of 2022. You also can subscribe to Race and Regulation on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
The podcast episodes draw on lectures delivered in the 2021-2022 lecture series on race and regulation at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, the full versions of which can be found at PPR’s YouTube channel. They also build on two online symposiums, “Racism, Regulation, and the Administrative State” and “Race and Regulation,” organized by The Regulatory Review, PPR’s online publication.
Each podcast is hosted by Cary Coglianese, Director of the Penn Program on Regulation, and produced by Patty McMahon. Music featured is by Philadelphia-based artist, Joy Ike.
Drawing on her latest book, Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families—And How Abolition Can Build a Safer World, law and sociology expert Dorothy Roberts of the University of Pennsylvania examines the fundamental racism of the child welfare system, which she argues regulates families in ways that disproportionately and negatively affect people of color. She explains why this system of family regulation should be dismantled and replaced with one that better protects children.
For generations, regardless of which party has controlled the White House, Black leaders have been virtually absent across the federal government’s financial regulatory bodies—a state of affairs that has severely limited the representation of Black communities and their interests in financial policy decisions and reinforced the racial wealth gap in the United States. Chris Brummer of Georgetown Law discusses why longstanding racial disparities in financial regulatory leadership continue even today—and what changes might be required to overcome them.
Racial segregation in American cities is no accident. Building on research from her award-winning book, Segregation by Design, political scientist Jessica Trounstine of UC-Merced examines how local land use regulations aimed at protecting the property values of white homeowners have generated segregation across racial and class lines that persists today—and how that segregation brings serious inequities in access to quality schools and public amenities. But just as segregation resulted from policy choices, Professor Trounstine shows how desegregation can be a purposeful choice, too, with the right regulatory decisions.
Throughout American history, racial inequality and political inequality have gone hand-in-hand. Building a truly representative democracy today and in the future will depend on ending racial discrimination in voting. In this episode, election law expert Guy-Uriel Charles of Harvard Law School argues that voting cannot be made a universal and fundamental right for all without nationalizing American election law and blocking states from adopting rules for redistricting and voting that exclude and disenfranchise minority voters. This episode is based on Prof. Charles’ 2021 Distinguished Lecture on Regulation at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School.
In this episode, Anita Allen, an internationally renowned expert on the philosophical dimensions of privacy and data protection law, reveals how race-neutral privacy laws in the U.S. have failed to address the unequal burdens faced online by Black Americans, whose personal data are used in racially discriminatory ways. Professor Allen articulates what she terms an African American Online Equity Agenda to guide the development of race-conscious privacy regulations that can better promote racial justice in the modern digital economy.
As mandated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, clinical trials for new pharmaceuticals enroll healthy people as paid research participants to test for drug safety and tolerability. But the social injustices from these trials are too often overlooked. Drawing on her award-winning book, Adverse Events, Jill Fisher of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Center for Bioethics explains how clinical drug trials attract disproportionate participation by racial and ethnic minorities who then disproportionately assume the risks of participating in these trials, often just to stay financially afloat.
Formal citizenship requirements for political participation exclude not only noncitizens, but also many individuals from racial communities perpetually seen as foreigners. Ming Hsu Chen of the University of California Hastings College of Law looks at regulatory barriers, such as voter ID laws, that inhibit both racial minorities and non-citizens from participating equally in the American political process. She offers proposals for regulatory changes that would create a more equitable political order.
COVID-19 has exacerbated existing health disparities for communities of color. Racial disparities have occurred in COVID-19 health effects and fatalities, and they have persisted through the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, too, which saw a greater uptake in socioeconomically privileged segments of the population. These outcomes did have to occur. Olatunde Johnson, of Columbia Law School, discusses how regulators could have made different policy design choices to promote greater equity in the vaccine rollout—and she draws key lessons not only for the next public health emergency but also for improving racial equity more generally.
The racial wealth gap in the U.S. is driven in part by a lack of access to credit among communities of color. But as Brian D. Feinstein of the Wharton School relays in this episode, new empirical research indicates that increasing the level of diversity on regional Federal Reserve Bank boards improves credit access for underbanked minority communities. He draws out the major implications of this research not only for narrowing the racial wealth gap, but for understanding the role that diversity in institutional leadership, including on corporate boards, can play in advancing racial equity more broadly.
Administrative law has a racial blind spot, argues Daniel E. Ho of Stanford Law School. Judges have long set aside agency actions when government officials have failed to consider the differential impacts of their policy decisions on subgroups of business owners, park visitors, and even animals—but not when they have failed to consider differential impacts based on race or ethnicity. In this episode, Professor Ho, traces how civil rights and administrative law have diverged over the past fifty years, as U.S. court decisions have removed issues of racial discrimination from administrative law’s purview. He concludes by discussing reforms that could better address racial inequities in the administrative state.