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Wednesday, June 22, 2016




This wasn't supposed to happen. Everything I read said the white republican senate refusing to interview President Obama's Supreme Court Nominee wasn't going to make a real difference because the court is balanced 4 progressive appointees to 4 conservatives appointees.

It wasn't supposed to matter because President Obama has been stacking the lower courts with progressive appointees. This was supposed to mean that any Supreme Court decision that resulted in a tie, 4 to 4, was supposed to result in one of those progressive courts getting to make the final decision.

And that's what should have happened in this case.

To be specific, a lower court decided in a Utah case that a cop's illegal search made the evidence he collected no good. The Supreme Court's decision should have been tied, 4 to 4, allowing that lower court's decision to stand.

But Justice Stephen Breyer, supposedly a progressive white male judge, aligned himself with CT and white male conservative justices and decided that police officers can use evidence they obtained without the of a benefit of a legal search and seizure -- because white males don't get searched and beaten illegally during routine stops in cars or on the street? 

Breyer  joined the 4 conservatives voted to gut the 4 amendment. The final supreme court vote was 5 to 3 instead of 4 to 4. 

Fourth Amendment
The Fourth Amendment originally enforced the notion that “each man’s home is his castle”, secure from unreasonable searches and seizures of property by the government.  It protects against arbitrary arrests, and is the basis of the law regarding search warrantsstop-and-frisk, safety inspections, wiretaps, and other forms of surveillance, as well as being central to many other criminal law topics and to privacy law.

"[I]n a thundering dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor....“The Court today holds that the discovery of a warrant for an unpaid parking ticket will forgive a police officer’s violation of your Fourth Amendment rights,” she wrote, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “Do not be soothed by the opinion’s technical language: This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants—even if you are doing nothing wrong.”
Later, writing only for herself, Sotomayor also added
"By legitimizing the conduct that produces this double consciousness, this case tells everyone, white and black, guilty and innocent, that an officer can verify your legal status at any time. It says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights. It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged.
We must not pretend that the countless people who are routinely targeted by police are “isolated.” They are the canaries in the coal mine whose deaths, civil and literal, warn us that no one can breathe in this atmosphere. They are the ones who recognize that unlawful police stops corrode all our civil liberties and threaten all our lives. Until their voices matter too, our justice system will continue to be anything but."


Warning: Extreme Sarcasm

I'm no legal scholar but I think this means that the legality of Freddie Gray's initial stop is now moot. Well....the legality of stopping Gray was already a moot point thanks to the prosecutors "The Van Did It" argument. But now I'm wondering if the cops having no legal right to stop Gray is even an arguable point for the trials anymore. That bad arrest was the beginning of the end of Gray's life.

Whether or not the knife in Gray's pocket, that the police didn't see due to lack of x-ray vision, was a "legal" or "illegal" knife makes no difference at all now, right?

So now, I guess it's a good thing the prosecutor said "The Van Did It" (in order to stop the Baltimore Uprising with an even mixture of black and white defendants?) Her putting the people responsible for Gray's death in jail is now independent of the bad arrest based on a bad search, isn't it?

By the way -- If anybody does any jail time at all for Freddie Gray's death, it's probably going to be one of the black people who did not beat up(?) then drag Gray's already broken body to the police van.


The other silver lining is this:

Now that a cop can just keep stopping  you over and over again, several times a week, for no reason at all until they find something on you --that they can make up a story around-- they should be satisfied with just putting us in jail instead of shooting us while unarmed.

People who can convict a Black Lives Matter activist trying to stop what she considered an ill conceived arrest FOR LYNCHING can do whatever the hell they please.

rant complete 

* * * * *

Sonia Sotomayor is one of my feminist heroes. She wrote a separate piece on the injustice of this decision and made it clear that this bad decision, despite affecting a white male in this particular case, was going to target black and brown people the most. She quoted James Baldwin, Michelle Alexander (who wrote The New Jim Crow) and  Ta-Nehisi Coates (who wrote "Between The World And Me" lately) 

One by one, she ran through instances of a Supreme Court all too willing to grant police more power to detain, arrest and search citizens — based on pretextual reasons, the way they look, or even suspicion that they had broken a law that doesn’t exist. 

She underscored that all bets are off once a person is caught in this system.

“Even if you are innocent, you will now join the 65 million Americans with an arrest record and experience the ‘civil death’ of discrimination by employers, landlords, and whoever else conducts a background check,” Sotomayor wrote.
What happened here is making me wonder about President Obama's choice for the Supreme Court.

Merrick Garland is supposed to be palatable to the republicans because he's worked with democratic and republican administrations. I don't know what Breyer's record looked like by comparison, but the lack of empathy and foresight demonstrated by Breyer, as a heterosexual white male that probably feels immune to the outcome of this horrible decision, makes me nervous. And if the republicans can't hold up a nominee forever, then why not keep presenting judges as far left as you want until they have to choose one? Why take a chance on putting another Breyer on the Supreme Court....for life!!!

Garland's record probably doesn't matter to republicans anyway. I suspect that the only thing that matters is that our president is black. They can't possibly believe Hillary will lost to Trump. And even if some do, the republicans want Trump to pick the next Supreme Court Justice? Really?  Even they can't be that crazy, can they? Or maybe they think they can make Trump implode before their convention and put somebody else on the ticket?

In any case, I want to see if our first black president turns out to be the first one in history to have a Supreme Court Nominee ignored and ignored for so long. President Obama nominated Merrick in mid-March of 2016. Here we are more than 3 months later, and from here it looks like there's been zero movement in the republican side of our government to restore the highest court in the land to full functionality.

Seems to me we're being told on all sides Black and Brown lives do not matter one bit to conservatives and Stephen Breyer.