As an ordinary observer, I have always wondered at the reason so many ordinary people put their trust in the United States Supreme Court to deliver justice when its history has been anything but a court that does that.
In a recent investigation conducted by [Reuters], they examined 500 cases to see if the Supreme Court proves Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s assertion that the court acts as “an absolute shield” against police accountability.
The study found that “qualified immunity” has acted as a barrier that prevents police from even being tried for excessive force. Qualified Immunity is a doctrine that was introduced in 1967 by the Supreme Court to protect government officials from unnecessary litigation.
But that finding is only the tip of the iceberg. Police excesses affect black Americans more than it does any other race in the United States. Yet at every turn, the Court has sided with, & shielded police at the exepense of the minority community.
In October of 2014 [usnews.com] reported that; since its establishment in 1789, the Supreme Court has impacted the course of American history, deciding the legality of laws from the Missouri Compromise to the Affordable Care Act. However, throughout its roughly 225-year history, the Supreme Court has largely failed to uphold the Constitution and protect minorities from the injustices of majoritarian politics, according to Erwin Chemerinsky, professor, and dean at the University of California-Irvine School of Law.
- Professor Erwin Chemerinsky, wrote that for some time he had been making excuses for the Supreme Court, “There are so many decisions that are deeply disturbing. I tried to present them to my students as if they were anomalies, and I came to realize that the pattern was much more concerning than I had realized”.
“The Supreme Court exists to enforce the Constitution. I think it’s particularly important that the court enforce the Constitution against the majoritarian pressures of society, so I think it plays a special role in protecting minorities. [But] I think the court has largely failed throughout American history to do nearly enough to protect racial minorities”.
- In 1857 the United States Supreme Court in (Sandford V Dred Scott Court’s verdict further inflamed the irrepressible differences in America over the issue of slavery, which in 1861 erupted with the outbreak of the American Civil War.
The court ruled, that Congress had no power to prohibit slavery in the territories. Three of the Southern justices also held that African Americans who were slaves or whose ancestors were slaves were not entitled to the rights of a federal citizen and therefore had no standing in court. Source:[history.com]
- Plessy v. Ferguson was a landmark 1896 U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation under the “separate but equal” doctrine. The case stemmed from an 1892 incident in which African American train passenger Homer Plessy refused to sit in a car for blacks. Rejecting Plessy’s argument that his constitutional rights were violated, the Supreme Court ruled that a law that “implies merely a legal distinction” between whites and blacks was not unconstitutional. As a result, restrictive Jim Crow legislation and separate public accommodations based on race became commonplace. Source[history.com]
- In reference to the US Supreme Court, the Atlantic in July of 2018 said this about Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall.
“Tasked with helping the Supreme Court bridge the gap between Jim Crow and whatever came next, the first black justice and the man whom President Lyndon B. Johnson once called “an advocate whose lifelong concern has been the pursuit of justice for his fellow man” was often forced to write that road map to justice in opposition to his colleagues.“
I prefer to refer to that process as establishing a soul and a moral compass to a broken amoral nation.
- Marshall envisioned a Court whose mandate necessitated that it reaches through time, destroying the foundation of white supremacy on which the Court itself had been built.The Atlantic said.
In the same July 2018 article the Atlantic argued; Marshall never truly got the Court he wanted. But his vision did help pull the body into its modern role as an institutional check on white power. Last month, however, the Supreme Court finally closed the book on that vision. Just five years after the landmark Shelby County v. Holder decision, it’s become clear that the decision has handed the country an era of renewed white racial hegemony. And we’ve only just begun.
Harvard Professor at Law Michael J Klarman a fellow of the American Academy since 2009 in an essay asked the question;
The foregone was only a small sampling of decisions that the Court has made that has significantly impacted black people in America in negative ways. Despite this sordid record people still look to the court to save them from what they see as an unjust system, atop which sits the very same Supreme Court. So tell me again do black people still look to the US Supreme Court to get justice, when the court itself was formed on the basis of white Supremacy?
Mike Beckles is a former Jamaican police Detective corporal, businessman, researcher, and blogger.
He is a black achiever honoree, and publisher of the blog chatt-a-box.com.
He’s also a contributor to several websites.
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