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News Posted on November 15, 2011

Angela Onwuachi-Willig Delivers Bodenheimer Lecture on Interracial Relationships

Angela Onwuachi-WilligAngela Onwuachi-Willig, the Charles and Marion J. Keirscht Professor of Law at University of Iowa College of Law and a former member of the King Hall faculty, delivered a captivating lecture on interracial marriage and the law in the 2011 Brigitte M. Bodenheimer Lecture on Family Law in the Kalmanovitz Appellate Courtroom on November 8.  Entitled "According to Our Hearts: What Does the Rhinelander v. Rhinelander Case Teach Us about Race, Law, and Family?", the event drew a large turnout of King Hall faculty, students, and staff.

Following a brief introduction by Dean Kevin R. Johnson, Onwuachi-Willig explored the social and legal meanings of Rhinelander v. Rhinelander, a 1925 case in which a wealthy white New York man sued his wife for an annulment, alleging that she had falsely claimed to be white.  Although New York law did not ban interracial marriages, New York courts readily accepted that racial fraud could legitimately serve as a reason for voiding the marriage.  (In a trial that drew nationwide attention, the jury ultimately found for the defendant.)  Though the Rhinelander case is much less well-known than Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision that banned race-based marriage restrictions, Onwuachi-Willig argued that Rhinelander remains relevant, exemplifying hierarchies of race in the United States and the ways in which they impact intimate relationships and family law.  Onwuachi-Willig is under contract with Yale University Press to publish a book on the subject.

Established in 1981 in memory of King Hall Professor Brigitte M. Bodenheimer, an internationally renowned teacher, scholar, and reformer of the law, the Bodenheimer lecture brings scholars and practitioners to UC Davis School of Law to discuss recent developments in family law.

2011 Brigitte M. Bodenheimer Lecture video