One thing I wanted to note though... supposedly in the 2003 USNews, when T2s weren't ranked, Cardozo was either 55th or 65th. I'm not sure where each source got their info, but it wasn't as absurd as another site that ranked Cardozo based on its alphabetical standing. o.O
That being said, I wouldn't be surprised if Cardozo had gone from 55th (if such a ranking existed unofficially) to 57th and now to 53rd. I don't know how USNews does its ranking or curving, but note that Cardozo didn't really improve as far as their raw score is concerned, which remains 53 this year. Seems like Cardozo got bumped up just because other schools lost ground (i.e. American, Tulane). As much as Cardozo seems like a rising school, as far as the USNews rankings go, it's felt pretty stagnant.
And correction, Cardozo arrived in 1976, not 1996