- Jul 2011
- becoming more and more
Brett Kavanaugh’s Latest Opinion Protects Black Defendants Against Racist ProsecutorsMuch of the Supreme Court’s 7–2 decision in Flowers v. Mississippi on Friday reads like a nightmare. The facts are straight out of the Jim Crow South: A white Mississippi prosecutor, Doug Evans, prosecuted a black man, Curtis Flowers, for the exact same crime six times in search of a capital conviction that might stick. In the process, Evans struck 41 of 42 black prospective jurors, an obvious attempt to secure an all-white jury. Several convictions were overturned due to flagrant prosecutorial misconduct. At Flowers’ sixth trial, however, Evans finally got a death sentence upheld by the Mississippi Supreme Court. Can that punishment possibly comport with the Constitution’s command of equal protection?
In a decision written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the U.S. Supreme Court said no, reversing Flowers’ conviction in light of obvious racial bias. To Kavanaugh’s credit, his opinion confronts Evans’ racism head-on and bolsters constitutional safeguards against prosecutorial attempts to purge minorities from juries. Meanwhile, Justice Clarence Thomas penned a scorching dissent, joined in part by Justice Neil Gorsuch, savaging the majority for trying to “boost its self-esteem” while “needlessly prolong[ing] the suffering of four victims’ families.” Thomas, in fact, is eager to overturn decades of precedent limiting prosecutors’ ability to exclude minority jurors on the basis of their race.
please do read the entire article. But, this particular paragraph caught my eye.
Gorsuch joined those portions of the dissent, but declined to sign onto its most radical assertion: that Batson itself should be overruled. Black defendants tried by all-white jurors created by racist prosecutors, Thomas wrote, suffer “no legally cognizable injury.” The accused suffer no equal protection violation when they are tried by a jury selected on the basis of race. Moreover, prosecutors should be permitted to make “generalizations” about black jurors, because “race matters in the courtroom.” Thomas ended his screed by berating the court for “needlessly prolong[ing] the suffering of four victims’ families” in an effort to “boost its self-esteem,” and declared: “If the Court’s opinion today has a redeeming quality, it is this: The State is perfectly free to convict Curtis Flowers again.”