Calvin Massey

Document Type

Symposium Article

First Page



This Article examines several legal and political issues raised by reparations for slavery and offers a skeptical appraisal of both the wisdom of reparations and their potential for success. There are a number of legal obstacles to courtroom-based reparations, including the difficulty of proving duty, causation, and damages; technical barriers such as limitations statutes and laches; and constitutional problems such as standing and courts' strict scrutiny of racial classifications. In the political realm, the difficulty of identifying those who should pay and those who should receive reparations, and the impact of a successful reparations scheme on race relations in America, should counsel against the wisdom of reparations for slavery.