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Kia Franklin

Happy Birthday, Jim Crow, and Good Riddance!

This article from Politico marks the 102nd anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling Plessey v. Ferguson. What a sobering reminder of why, as Obama himself put it, "the critical ingredient [in a good Supreme Court nominee] is supplied by what is in the judge's heart."

From Politico:

On this day in 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a Louisiana law mandating “equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races” on railroad trains. The ruling upheld racial segregation on the federal level for the first time.

...Justice John Marshall Harlan wrote a scathing dissent: “Our Constitution is colorblind and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law.” (Read full story here)

Back before the 2008 election, I argued that "[s]ince the next president will undoubtedly make Supreme Court appointments, he needs to embrace the judicial values that will benefit a majority of ordinary Americans, not corporate interests." I also argued that McCain's and Obama's views on the Ledbetter Supreme Court decision could be important indicators about whether they would embrace these values and require the next Supreme Court justice to do the same.

Days like this give occasion to reflect and remember why this upcoming Supreme Court nomination is so important. Obama has stated his preference for someone who is both superbly qualified and in possession of the "x factor," which has been described as "heart," "empathy," and (my favorite so far because it is probably the most accurate description of what a good judge needs to have) "a sense of court decisions in the context of daily lives."

Kia Franklin: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 4:22 PM, May 18, 2009 in Civil Justice | Civil Rights | Judicial Nominees | News | Notable and Quotable | Racial Discrimination | Supreme Court | Supreme Court Rulings
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