2023 Kansas Law Review Symposium

2023 Kansas Law Review Symposium

Home is Where the Law Says: 75 Years of Shelley v. Kraemer

Friday, October 13, 2023
9 a.m. - 4 p.m. (Check-in and breakfast from 8:30-9 a.m.) 
104 Green Hall

Home is Where the Law Says: 75 Years of Shelley v. KraemerAt a most basic level, a person’s home should be a source of safety, comfort, and privacy. Home ownership is central to family life and plays a critical role in generational wealth and financial security. Where a person lives is correlated to crime rates, mortality rates, and school success. The freedom to decide where you live has historically been restricted to a small, wealthy, white section of the population. As we’ve struggled as a nation to ensure greater access for all Americans, the law has played the role of both sword and shield, at times cutting off access to housing for marginalized communities, at other times protecting it. 

In 1948, the United States Supreme Court decided the landmark case Shelley v. Kraemer, a case brought to enforce a racially restrictive housing covenant in St. Louis, Missouri. This type of housing covenant, which kept Black and Asian Americans from living in that neighborhood, was not uncommon, and, in this case, was used to expel the Shelley family from their new home. The Court held for the first time that it was unconstitutional under the 14 Amendment for the judiciary to enforce such racially restrictive covenants. This holding was the most protective national measure yet against racial housing discrimination in the United States, but it stops far short of preventing discrimination itself. After 75 years, this case and the issues that created it are still in play in the United States.

On October 13, 2023, Kansas Law Review will host a symposium on this very issue on KU’s Campus, featuring scholars from across the country to revisit Shelley v. Kraemer after 75 years.

This symposium will explore modern legal theory and realities of property rights, housing access, race and segregation, contracts, and the implicit and explicit powers and effects of the law. Through this symposium, we seek to engage scholars writing in diverse areas including property rights, housing rights, constitutional law, contracts, tenancy, access and discrimination, zoning, tax, etc.  

Scholarship associated with the Symposium will be published in a spring 2024 edition of the Kansas Law Review.

Keynote Speaker

Taja-Nia Henderson
Professor of Law
Dean of Rutgers Graduate School-Newark

Taja-Nia Henderson, Keynote Speaker at the 2023 Law Review Symposium at the University of KansasTaja-Nia Henderson serves as Dean of the Graduate School at Rutgers University-Newark, where she is also a Professor at Rutgers Law School. Her scholarship focuses on the historical impact of punishment regimes on property systems in the U.S., and she is particularly interested in the legal histories of incarceration and chattel slavery. Dr. Henderson’s research on property and prisons has been published in numerous law reviews, and featured in the New York Times and Teen Vogue.

Dr. Henderson’s research has been supported by the John Kluge Center at the Library of Congress and the American Philosophical Society.  

Prior to joining Rutgers, Taja-Nia was a litigation associate at a major New York law firm. She recently completed a stint on the board of Practicing Attorneys for Law Students, Inc., New York City’s premier mentoring and coaching program for law students of color. Previously, she was awarded the Rutgers Law School “Professor of the Year” award by the Student Bar Association.

Dr. Henderson earned her JD and PhD in American History at New York University, and her AB at Dartmouth College.


  • Stephen Clowney | University of Arkansas School of Law | Professor of Law

  • Randall Johnson | UMKC School of Law | Professor of Law

  • Rosa Newman-Ruffin | Elon University School of Law | Assistant Professor of Law

  • Brandon Weiss | American University Washington College of Law  | Professor of Law

  • Lua Yuille | Northeastern University School of Law | Professor of Law and Business; Associate Dean for Research and Interdisciplinary Education


View and print a .pdf version of this schedule

8:30 - 9:00 a.m.

Breakfast and social

9:00 - 9:30 a.m.

Opening Remarks and an Introduction to Shelley v. Kraemer

Associate Dean Jamila Jefferson-Jones

9:30 - 10:15 a.m.

Taja-Nia Henderson, Professor of Law, Dean of Rutgers Graduate School-Newark

Keynote Address: "Before Shelley: Black Community Making in the Face of Local Hostility"

10:15 - 10:30 a.m.


10:30 - 11:15 a.m.

Stephen Clowney, Professor of Law, University of Arkansas School of Law

"Nationalize Zoning Law"

11:15 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Randall Johnson, Professor of Law, UMKC School of Law

"How To Limit The Downstream Costs Of Racially Restrictive Covenants"

12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

Lunch on your own

1:00 - 1:45 p.m.

Rosa Newman-Ruffin, Assistant Professor of Law, Elon University School of Law

"Community Choice: Does the law do enough to protect access to housing when our economic system does not?"

1:45 - 2:30 p.m.

Brandon Weiss, Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law

"Affirmatively Moving Beyond Shelley in Light of Major Questions"

2:30 - 2:45 p.m.


2:45 - 3:30 p.m.

Lua Yuille, Professor of Law and Business, Associate Dean for Research and Interdisciplinary Education, Northeastern University School of Law

"Shelley Can’t Save Us … Because It Wasn’t Meant To"

3:30 - 3:45 p.m.

Closing Remarks


The symposium is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

Program Accessibility 

If you require a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this event, please contact Rebecca Clayton by September 29 at rclayton@ku.edu or 785-864-2388, 771 TTY.

Symposium Issue

Scholarship associated with the symposium will be published in a spring 2024 issue of the Kansas Law Review.


Contact Symposium Editor Libby Rohr at lrohr@ku.edu.

Contact the Kansas Law Review