Newest SCOTUS Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson gave Alabama's Edmund LaCour a history lesson on the 14th Amendment.
In just her first week on the Supreme Court (SCOTUS), Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson hit the ground running.
The SCOTUS heard arguments in Merrill v. Milligan—an Alabama congressional redistricting case about packing Black voters into a single congressional district diluting their voting power.
This is a practice prohibited by Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Justice Jackson used a conservative stance —Constitutional originalism— to prove the Reconstruction amendments focused on race. This contradicts a widely held conservative argument that the Constitution is race-neutral.
You can hear her remarks here:
\u201cMore KBJ: The 14th Amendment "was drafted to give a constitutional foundation for a piece of legislation" that used "race-conscious" remedies to make Freedman equal to white citizens. So how could the Voting Rights Act's race-conscious remedies possibly be unconstitutional?\u201d— Mark Joseph Stern (@Mark Joseph Stern) 1664895288
\u201cFor decades, conservative justices insisted the 14th Amendment demands a "color blindness," prohibiting race-conscious remedies designed to help racial minorities.\n\nKBJ just directly challenged this claim on originalist grounds, arguing that it gets the history dead wrong.\u201d— Mark Joseph Stern (@Mark Joseph Stern) 1664895288
Speaking to Alabama Solicitor General Edmund LaCour, Jackson reminded LaCour the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments are explicitly related to race.
"I don’t think we can assume that just because race is taken into account, that that necessarily creates an equal protection problem."
“I understood that we looked at the history and traditions of the constitution, at what the Framers and the Founders thought about. And when I drilled down to that level of analysis, it became clear to me that the framers themselves adopted the equal protection clause, the 14th Amendment, the 15th Amendment, in a race-conscious way.”
"That we were, in fact, trying to ensure that people who had been discriminated against, the Freedman, during the Reconstruction period, were actually brought equal to everyone else in society.”
"[The 14th Amendment was adopted] to ensure that people who had been discriminated against, the freedmen, during the Reconstruction period, were actually brought equal to everyone else in society.”
\u201cAnyone wondering if it would take time for Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to settle into a new job, the last few days should dispel any question. Her intelligence, preparation, and fearlessness are on full display. The Court has a formidable new presence. She\u2019s not messing around.\u201d— Dan Rather (@Dan Rather) 1664921051
"I looked at the report that was submitted by the Joint Committee on Reconstruction, which drafted the 14th Amendment, and that report says that the entire point of the amendment was to secure rights of the freed former slaves.”
Quoting an 1866 speech by Pennsylvania Republican Representative Thaddeus Stevens— a strong proponent of civil rights for Black people—she added:
"That report says that the entire point of the amendment was to secure rights of the freed former slaves."
"The legislator who introduced that amendment said that ‘unless the Constitution should restrain them, those states will all, I fear, keep up this discrimination and crush to death the hated Freedman'."
“That’s not a race-neutral or race-blind idea, in terms of the remedy."
\u201c@AngryBlackLady it is vital to confront these liars, hoist them on their own petards, and ridicule them. \n\nJackson seems well capable of the first two, given that she is 100x smarter and more prepared then they are.\n\nNow we need to add Justice Smart Ass to have her back with the ridiculing.\u201d— \ud83d\udc7bImani Gandy Corn\ud83d\udc7b (@\ud83d\udc7bImani Gandy Corn\ud83d\udc7b) 1665161909
Jackson noted one purpose of the 14th Amendment was to provide a constitutional foundation to the Civil Rights Act of 1866 which:
“specifically stated that citizens would have the same civil rights as enjoyed by White citizens. That’s the point of that act, to ensure that the other citizens, the Black citizens, would have the same as the White citizens.”
Justice Jackson then told LaCour:
“With that background, I’m trying to understand your position [on] Section 2, which by its plain text is doing that same thing."
"It’s saying: You need to identify people in this community who have less opportunity and less ability to participate and ensure that that’s remedied. It’s a race-conscious effort, as you have indicated."
"I’m trying to understand why that violates the 14th amendment given the history and background of the 14th Amendment.”
People applauded Justice Jackson’s efforts in a court they felt no longer confident in.
\u201cJudge Ketanji Brown Jackson is like a breath of fresh air on the Supreme Court, exhibiting a sense of humanity & equality, coupled with empathy, integrity & intellectual judicial astuteness, that is unprecedented since Judge Thurgood Marshall. Hope springs eternal after all.\ud83d\ude4f\ud83c\udfff\ud83d\ude4f\ud83c\udfff\u201d— Rev John H Moore (@Rev John H Moore) 1665280235
\u201c@vallen67 @mjs_DC Most of us do just about 24% DON'T\u201d— Mark Joseph Stern (@Mark Joseph Stern) 1664895288
\u201crarely \u2014 if ever \u2014 has a member of the court so authoritatively and definitively used the relevant legislative and constitutional history to demolish the \u201ccolorblind\u201d charade. And doing so with a purely originalist interpretation made it much more powerful https://t.co/hX4skrGiMb\u201d— Jennifer "Pro-privacy" Rubin (@Jennifer "Pro-privacy" Rubin) 1665057713
\u201c@dockellis10 @mjs_DC Oh, don't worry. They lost the ability for shame long ago. They'll just do some more wholesale invention of novel constitutional doctrines for this case and call it a day\u201d— Mark Joseph Stern (@Mark Joseph Stern) 1664895288
\u201c@DesertRetro @mjs_DC No, but electing Democrats up and down the ballot between now and November 8th will.\nhttps://t.co/Rz1KByrPMN\u201d— Mark Joseph Stern (@Mark Joseph Stern) 1664895288
\u201c@aJellyElectric @DanRather Let\u2019s hope so! She was the BEST SCJ ever!\u201d— Dan Rather (@Dan Rather) 1664921051
\u201c@DanRather We\u2019re already seeing what an actual qualified Justice looks like vs ones hand picked by the Federalist Society.\u201d— Dan Rather (@Dan Rather) 1664921051
\u201c@TimRoge43570110 @lmtaylor53 @DanRather Random white guy says what about the supremely qualified black woman.\u201d— Dan Rather (@Dan Rather) 1664921051
\u201c@DanRather I have faith in her however my faith in the court itself is lacking since Republicans have packed it with right wing dialogues masquerading as jurists.\u201d— Dan Rather (@Dan Rather) 1664921051
\u201c@justvis72182424 @therecount The precision. Yes!\u201d— The Recount (@The Recount) 1664917375
\u201c@09JJR @therecount She probably took notes so she could take them home & have her husband tell her what to do.\u201d— The Recount (@The Recount) 1664917375
\u201c@DanRather I\u2019m afraid she won\u2019t be able to sway the hateful 6 into being ethical or even a tad professional.\u201d— Dan Rather (@Dan Rather) 1664921051
While Justice Jackson’s presence was welcomed, many felt reformation was needed for a court packed by former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to put the Bible ahead of the Constitution in SCOTUS.
People are still calling for four more justices to be added to reflect the current 13 circuit courts.
SCOTUS currently has nine justices because there were nine circuit courts the last time the number of SCOTUS justices was addressed.
Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution gives Congress the authority to change the size of the Supreme Court.
Congress used that authority seven times before.