Would a Black Judge Have Been Biased in Brown v. Board of Education?

US District Judge Vaughn Walker is the judge who issued the ruling that Prop 8, which bans same sex marriage in California, is unconstitutional. Conservatives are now claiming that he is gay (which is unconfirmed at this point) and that his gayness presents an obvious bias. Furthermore, he should have recused himself from the case because as a gay man he would have a conflict of interest in deciding a case on gay rights.

The obvious question is - would a straight man not have a bias? Prop 8 would maintain straight people's monopoly on marriage. Wouldn't a straight person have a conflict of interest in deciding a case about whether they get to have more rights than other people in society? Presumably a lot of straight people voted in California to take away the right of gay people to get married - wouldn't they be biased in favor of protecting their own rights and taking away the rights of gays in California?

How about a devoutly religious judge? If that person believes it is an abomination against God to have gay people get married, wouldn't that create an obvious bias? Should we look into how religious each judge is before we let them decide cases like this? How about Antonin Scalia, who has on many occasions talked about how deeply religious he is? Should he be recused if this case reaches the Supreme Court? Clarence Thomas? Samuel Alito? How many justices will be left to decide this case?

Now, let's think about it a different way. What if there was a black justice on the Supreme Court when they were deciding Brown v. Board of Education? Would he be biased in favor of having the same rights as white Americans? Should he have stepped down from the case because he would obviously want the same constitutional rights as any other American? Bias!!

Of course, there was a black man in the courtroom at the time. The man who was the winning attorney on Brown v. Board of Education and would later become the first ever African-American justice on the Supreme Court - Thurgood Marshall. Should the court have told him that he couldn't litigate the case because it would be biased of him to want the same rights as white people?

Should Marshall have also recused himself from every case that involved race when he was on the Supreme Court? If so, why did the white justices get to rule on those cases?

As you can see, although the bias argument might seem appealing at first blush to some, it is quite absurd when you break it down. If you're not already convinced, let me give you one last example. What if California decided to take away women's right to vote - could a female justice not rule on that case because they would be biased in favor of keeping their own constitutional rights?

But you don't have to worry about these absurd right-wing arguments for much longer because conservatives will lose this battle, as they have lost every right civil rights battle they have ever fought in this country. As I explain here:

And as far as whether being gay is an abomination and ruins the institution of marriage, I want you to think about this:

As Judge Walker meticulously explained, there are no rational arguments in favor of denying gay Americans the same rights that straight Americans enjoy. Only irrational ones, like the one that says that it is biased for a gay man in this country to ask for equal protection under the law.

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Republicans: Judicial Activists in Immigration Reform Clothes

So the Party of No has suddenly become the party of simpering “Judicial Activists”. Those paragons of the rule of law – represented by their Sharia-like interpretation of the Constitution – Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-Nelly Bottom) and Jon Kyle (R-Independent  Duchy  of Arizona), are yapping about repealing the 14th Amendment (the one giving citizenship to babies born in this country).

There’s no legitimate argument that numerous administrations and Congresses from both parties haven’t ignored immigration reform. Performance on the issue has been on par with the handling of Katrina and is well past due. But rewriting the Constitution to do something you’re too weak-willed to do honestly is a tad disingenuous. You can’t just constantly carp about a strict interpretation of the Constitution 250-years removed from its writing and then just argue to rewrite it if something is giving you political heartburn.

Many people don’t think women are capable of anything, including voting. Why not just repeal the Franchise? Heck, “We’re at war dammit! Let’s repeal the First Amendment because the teabagger’s public statements are offensive.” And that whole habeas corpus thing is a real patriotism buzz kill. Let’s get rid of that too. This is not a case of racism, it’s a case of “Stupidism”.

It’s time for the immigratirati to take a dip in the Rio Grande and start dealing with the problem rationally instead of like Lou Dobbs on a Red Bull bender. It’s this type of squeaky wheelism that built the Fence to Nowhere – America’s very own Maginot Line. This thinking led to an Arizona law that essentially requires police to do what they were already able to do voluntarily and does nothing to solve the problem.

The people of this country want solutions to problems, not a bunch of bickering over who is an opportunistic crapweasel looking for votes or who is a racist. There are a number of actions that could be taken with simple discussions by honest negotiators. Others would take a little negotiation. And, there are still others that will only be done by inflicting pain. But have no question. We do have a place to start.

So Gov. Tea Brewer get on with something useful. Jon and Lindsey, stop trying to throw the (immigrant) baby out with the bathwater. And Messiah, get off your duff, corral those cats that pass for a political party, and fix the problem.

We the people thank you.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!




Lady Gaga speaks out against SB1070 as Sheriff Arpaio sweeps up protestors

From Restore Fairness blog. As the movement against Arizona’s anti immigration law SB1070 goes stronger, and in light of Federal Judge Susan Bolton’s decision to place a temporary hold on the law, it seems like there is much to celebrate. But the real trigger to Arizona’s law stemmed from programs that continue to exist today that encourage tie ups between federal immigration and local law enforcement, programs like 287(g) and Secure Communities that enforce immigration laws which deny fairness to many.   

There's more...

Lady Gaga speaks out against SB 1070 as Sheriff Arpaio sweeps up protestors

From Restore Fairness blog.  As the movement against Arizona’s anti immigration law SB1070 goes stronger, and in light of Federal Judge Susan Bolton’s decision to place a temporary hold on the law, it seems like there is much to celebrate. But the real trigger to Arizona’s law stemmed from programs that continue to exist today that encourage tie ups between federal immigration and local law enforcement, programs like 287(g) and Secure Communities that enforce immigration laws which deny fairness to many.  

There's more...

Weekly Diaspora: Department of Justice Challenges Arizona’s SB 1070—What’s next?

by Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger

On Tuesday, the Department of Justice filed suit against the state of Arizona in an effort to overturn a stringent anti-immigration law passed in April. The move is a breath of fresh air for immigrant rights supporters. Democracy Now! and the Washington Independent have the story.

The suit will take on Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, a law that requires local law enforcement to check an individual’s immigration status if there is “reasonable suspicion” that said individual is undocumented. The law has sparked national outrage and serious concerns that Latinos will be racially profiled by the police. Another provision of SB 1070 requires immigrants to carry papers denoting citizenship at all times while in the state.

Is SB 1070 unconstitutional?

At ColorLines, Daisy Hernandez reports that “the lawsuit, which was filed in a U.S. District Court in Phoenix, argues that it’s against the Constitution for a state to make its own immigration policy” because of “the legal doctrine of ‘preemption,’ which says that federal law trumps state statues.”

The key argument being that “the federal government already works with states to enforce federal immigration law,” so there’s no need for a law like SB 1070 to intervene, according to Hernandez.

A civil rights fiasco

Since April, the Arizona law has served as a rallying point for immigrant rights supporters, who refer to the bill as the “Juan Crow” law. The nickname references the Jim Crow laws that existed prior to the civil rights struggles of the 1960s.

Jessica Pieklo at Care2 notes that the DOJ suit “also contains a civil rights component and argues that the law would lead to law enforcement harassing U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants in efforts to hunt down undocumented workers.”

Citizens react

At New America Media, Valeria Fernández gauges immigrants’ and Arizona residents’ reactions to the suit.

“I really feel that the Justice Department will be on the winning side of history,” said Mary Rose Wilcox, a supervisor for District 5 in Maricopa County, AZ. “I think when justice needs to be served, you should never look at political costs.”

An undocumented immigrant named Griselda told Fernández that she “jumped for joy when she heard the news,” and “Thank God there’s another one in the fight.”

The immigration reform battle moves forward

Last week, President Barack Obama called for Congress to put politics aside and focus on immigration reform as quickly as possible. The speech and suit are fueling demand for comprehensive reform and it’s clear that the issue won’t be going away.

Yet despite the need for reform, there are roadblocks. As Paul Waldman writes for the American Prospect, “It’s true that there is little incentive for politicians to produce comprehensive reform. It’s guaranteed to displease much of the public, while there is a powerful incentive to play on people’s fears and resentments.”

However, there is hope in the organizing that’s being done by immigrant youth. Undocumented immigrant and student organizer Tania Unzueta said in an interview with In These Times that immigrants from across the country are risking deportation and incarceration to come “out of the shadows and into the spotlight.”

As Unzueta explains in the interview, “When you stop being afraid, there’s a whole world of possibilities in terms of how much risk you’re willing to take to fight for what you believe is just.”

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.


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