Tell Me Again Why You Expected Justice From The Supreme Court?

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:[his​to​ry​.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[his​to​ry​.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.
You may sub­scribe to his blogs free of charge, or sub­scribe to his Youtube chan­nel @chatt-a-box, for the lat­est pod­cast all free to you of course.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.