Race, Reason, & the Supreme Court

Full Course Title: 
Race, Reason, & the Supreme Court
Course Number: 
Section Number(s) and Day/Times Taught: 
149: TR 8:00-9:15AM
Section Number(s) and Day/Times Taught: 
150: TR 12:30-1:45PM
Fall 2017
Civic Engagement

This course will explore the evolution of African-American legal rights over the last one hundred and sixty years. We will first learn about how our Nation's highest court is constituted and empowered and then, learn how, through a process known as legal reasoning, its decisions are reached. We will study the effect of race and culture on judicial decision-making.

Understanding how the American legal system works and the reasoning employed by its courts in decision-making is an invaluable tool for navigating daily life and navigating the business world. This understanding is also an essential tool for effective self-advocacy. Our course will first focus on understanding basic legal concepts, their origins and synergy. Students will understand the concepts of the rule of law, legal rules, legal authority, legal precedent and legal holdings. We will apply these concepts through an exploration of legal opinions in historically important cases which detail the evolution of African-American legal rights through the prism of race and culture. Students will analyze the issues in each case, consider why these issues were raised, discuss how they were resolved and learn how they were justified under then contemporary social circumstances.

Students will read five very short, but influential works by noteworthy African-American authors who provide a racial and cultural perspective contemporary to each case study.

Later, students will participate in group projects involving our local courts, legal aid society and court-administered community service agency. They will also individually
research and consider, from a global perspective, how a racially charged case might have been decided in other countries.


Henry B. Wansker is a graduate of theUniversity ofNorth Carolina atChapel Hill and of Wake Forest University School of Law. He is admitted to practice inNorth Carolina,South Carolina andUtah and before all State and Federal Courts in those jurisdictions. He is a member of the Fourth and Tenth Circuit Bars as well as the Bar of the United States Supreme Court.

 Judge Wansker is a former Member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Governors of the Utah Trial Lawyers Association (Treasurer), a past Chair of the Social Security Disability Law Section of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, a former Member of the Board of Governors of the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers as well as one of its Political Action Committee Trustees and a former Chair of itsDisability Advocacy Section. He is also a former Member of the Board of Directors of the National Workers' Compensation Plaintiffs' Lawyers' Organization, the Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group.  He has been listed among the membership of the Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers since 1992. He was named one ofUtah’s Legal Elite in the field of Health Law.

 Formerly a partner in and later Of Counsel to the Laurinburg, North Carolina firm of Moser, Garner, Bruner and Wansker, P.A. and formerly in private practice in Salt Lake City, Utah, with the firm of Deseret Disability Law, Judge Wansker served with the Social Security Administration’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) in Columbus, Ohio from his appointment to the Administrative Judiciary in May 2008, until his retirement in December 2015. As a lawyer and a judge, he regularly addressed as well as chaired continuing legal and judicial education conferences for twenty-five years. He is currently serves as Adjunct Faculty in Government and Justice Studies at Appalachian State University.

Contact FYS

The First Year Seminar is part of the General Education Program located in Anne Belk Hall, Room 250.

Phone: 828-262-2028

Our mailing address:
First Year Seminar
ASU Box 32065
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608

Director of First Year Seminar:
Rick Klima

QEP Global Learning