In the court of public opinion, Brett Kavanaugh has not always found himself in the most favorable position, especially regarding complicated racial politics. Perhaps this is why many are wondering if this is why he felt the need to call out racism on the first day of his hotly contested Supreme Court appointment.
According to Yahoo, Monday, the Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of a Louisiana law that permits criminal convictions based on jury verdicts that weren’t unanimous. In response, Justice Kavanaugh pointed out the racist roots of the Louisiana law, also noting that there were two “practical reasons” to overrule the precedent the state currently relies on.
First of the two reason is that the law is unfair to defendants who otherwise have a constitutional right to a unanimous jury. The second reason is that the law is glaring with racist intent.
“The rule in question here is rooted in a—in racism, you know, rooted in a desire, apparently, to diminish the voices of black jurors,” Kavanaugh told the state’s solicitor general, Elizabeth Murrill.
“Why aren’t those two things enough to overrule… unfairness to defendants and rooted in racism?” he rhetorically asked Murrill. To which she replied that the law was not “fundamentally unfair.”
While a conservative justice may seem a somewhat unlikely champion of minorities, recently Kavanaugh authored the majority opinion in a case reversing a quadruple murder conviction due to a racist jury selection process, meaning he is very specifically qualified to speak on the topic at hand.
His condemnation of systemic racism was bolstered by Chief justice John Roberts, who also said he was skeptical of the argument that it’s better to be convicted by six people in agreement than a group of 12 with two dissenters.
“Ask a defendant,” said Roberts. “I’m not sure it’s self-apparent.”
The justices will consider arguments over the next few months, and will likely announce a decision next year.