Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Despite Justice Sotomayor's Passionate Dissent, Right-wing Supreme Court Turns Another Blind Eye to Racism

From AlterNet:

In sum, Sotomayor said that the U.S. Constitution “does not guarantee minority groups guaranteed outcomes [or] victory in the political process,” but that “it does guarantee them meaningful and equal access to the process. It guarantees that the majority may not win by stacking the political process against minority groups permanently.”

Tragically, Sotomayor’s fair-minded view of race and participation is not the majority view on the Supreme Court. If anything, when we look at where the Court has decided to expand “access” to supposedly democratic public processes like elections, what we find is a persistent and ongoing institutional bias toward the wealthiest Americans—who overwhelmingly also are white.

More here.

Back in the early 2000s, I did a really close reading of Justice Scalia's dissent in Garner v Texas, the gay sodomy case.  My motivation was that I had heard how Scalia's writing is incredibly clear, which turned out to be true, but because he's what passes for the very best among conservative intellectuals, I also wanted to see some of that very best conservative intellectualism at play.  And I was disappointed.  What I found was some really clever reasoning based on some assumptions about reality that were so flawed as to be absurd.  I'm no lawyer, and I had to look up some terms and concepts in order to get the gist of some of what he was saying, but Scalia's famous clarity served to lay his ultimately faulty argumentation completely bare.  That is, you don't need to be a lawyer to see the false "facts" upon which the conservative jurist's arguments are based: when your facts are wrong, your arguments, as groovy and intelligent as they might seem, go absolutely nowhere.

So it was completely clear that Scalia had, and probably still has, absolutely no understanding of what gay people are about as human beings, and I mean that in terms of what contemporary psychology has been telling us about homosexuality for decades now.  He was completely divorced from reality in considering the question of whether consenting gay people should have the same privacy rights that straight people have.  Consequently, his conclusions were totally full of shit.  And you don't need a law degree to know that.

Flash forward to this recent ruling on a ballot initiative in Michigan banning affirmative action in university admissions.  While I haven't read the majority opinion, myself, I'm very inclined to believe Justice Sotomayor's assertion that the Court's conservative faction apparently has absolutely no understanding of the racial dynamic today in the United States.  And if that's true, then, as with Scalia's arguments in Garner v Texas, the entire majority opinion must necessarily be WRONG.  You just can't base a successful argument on faulty assumptions.  Such an argument is a failure from the very beginning.

For instance, have you ever noticed the tendency of black people to hang out with black people, and the tendency of white people to hang out with white people?  Right, it's obvious.  And there's been a lot of serious academic study about this.  Turns out, I mean, again, obviously, that people are more comfortable in the presence of people who are like them in terms of race and ethnicity.  Not racism, just people understanding better others who share a lot of their experiences.  But what happens during the interview process for people trying to get jobs?  That tendency is still there, but it's not about hanging out, it's about getting jobs, and, for most people, that tendency is not consciously understood: employers during interviews are, whether they want to be or not, more comfortable with potential employees of their own race and ethnicity, and that DEFINITELY affects the hiring process.  Now connect the dots.  This is still a white dominated nation, and that means whites are mostly in control of the hiring process overall.

And that means we have a MAJOR problem when it comes to equal opportunity, a problem unacknowledged by most whites because whites don't think about this kind of thing.  To date, affirmative action has been the ONLY plan for dealing with this kind of inadvertent discrimination.  It's the same thing with the university acceptance process, and I'd bet you credits to navy beans that the SCOTUS majority for this Michigan decision didn't consider these facts at all, which means that they necessarily arrived at a faulty conclusion.  The wrong conclusion.  One that allows systemic, chronic, gross denial of civil rights to huge populations within the US.

Oh, and let's not forget the recent study showing that desegregation in the public schools never fully happened, and that what desegregation did happen is now reversing itself.  Brown v the Board of Education ruled that separate cannot ever be equal, but separate is what we have.  For some reason the conservatives on the Supreme Court don't seem to acknowledge this gigantic turd in their color blind punch bowl, which, again, makes their notions of fairness and equality problematic, at best, and WRONG, at worst.

I mean, for god's sake, the whole Michigan ban on affirmative action is because it supposedly discriminates against whites!  That's just straight up fiction.  And the conservative Justices seem to believe the lie.

Actually, that's the most interesting question to me.  The Supreme Court's conservative wing appears to be totally out of touch with reality on various issues, which is why they get it wrong so often--it really does have nothing to do with interpreting the law; it's about understanding the reality in which we live.  But can it really be possible that such learned men are so freaking stupid?  Or, rather, are they simply offering pseudo-intellectual bullshit as cover for their preferred political outcomes?

I, for one, tend to never attribute to malevolence what can be better attributed to stupidity, and advanced degrees are in no way inoculation against stupidity.  But really.  How can these guys be so fucking stupid?  It strains the imagination.