May 12, 1994
Vol. 13, No. 18

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    Gerald Rosenberg receives Laing Prize

    Gerald Rosenberg, Associate Professor in Political Science, has been awarded the 1993 Gordon J. Laing Prize by the University of Chicago Press for his book "The Hollow Hope: Can Courts Bring About Social Change?" (1991).

    The book challenges the idea that American courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court in particular, can effect social change.

    The Laing Prize is presented annually to the University faculty author, editor or translator of a book published by the Press in the previous three years that brings the Press the greatest distinction. The Board of University Publications makes the selection.

    Rosenberg received the award late last month at a Quadrangle Club reception organized by the Press. The award was presented by President Sonnenschein and Morris Philipson, Director of the University Press. Both presenters praised the book for challenging conventional thinking about the role of the judiciary in public life.

    "The Hollow Hope" traces the impact of such famous cases as Brown vs. Board of Education (1954), in which the Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation of schools is unconstitutional. Many people today consider the case a turning point in the fight for civil rights, but Rosenberg argues that the decision had little impact on school desegregation or the battle for civil rights. Schools in the South remained largely segregated for 10 years after the Brown ruling, he points out, and they were not effectively desegregated until the late 1960s, after Congress passed laws promoting the change. Increased activism by civil-rights leaders unconnected to Brown was probably more responsible for changing public attitudes toward school segregation than was the court case, Rosenberg contends.

    Rosenberg, a faculty member since 1985, received his B.A. in political science from Dartmouth in 1976 and his M.A. in politics and philosophy from Christ Church College, Oxford, in 1979. He received his J.D. in 1983 from the University of Michigan and his Ph.D. in political science in 1985 from Yale.