A professor at the Emory University School of Law is under fire after he tweeted that the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was “basically a klansman,” reported the ABA Journal.
Law professor Darren Hutchinson made the comment
regarding a memo by Scalia to other justices as they considered the case McCleskey
v. Kemp, report Above
the Law, Fox
News and a blog
post by Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University
In the 1987 McCleskey ruling, the Supreme
Court refused to strike down the death penalty in Georgia, despite
statistics showing that killers of white victims in the state were
four times more likely receive a death sentence that killers of Black victims.
The statistics were known as the Baldus study because one of the researchers was
David Baldus, a professor at the University of Iowa College of Law.
According to Hutchinson’s Jan. 9 tweet,
Scalia indicated that he planned to join the majority opinion by Justice Lewis
Powell in the case, with two reservations.
“I disagree with the argument that the inferences
that can be drawn from the Baldus study are weakened by the fact that each jury
and each trial is unique or by the large number of variables at issue. And I do
not share the view, implicit in the opinion, that an effect of racial factors
upon sentencing, if it could be shown by sufficiently strong statistical
evidence, would require reversal. Since it is my view that the unconscious
operation of irrational sympathies and antipathies, including racial, upon jury
decisions and (hence) prosecutorial decisions is real, acknowledged in the
decisions of this court, and ineradicable, I cannot honestly say that all I
need is more proof,” Scalia had wrote.
Above the Law summarized Scalia’s view this way:
“Scalia urged colleagues to ignore evidence of racial bias—in a death penalty
case—not because it was inaccurate, but because he thought racial bias is
ineradicable so … them’s the breaks!”
Turley called Hutchinson’s tweet a “disgraceful
attack” that amounted to character assassination, rather than reasoned
Hutchinson stuck to his guns in later tweets. He
responded to a commenter who said far too many people treat accusations of
racism worse than they treat even the worst racial slur.
“This is so true!” Hutchinson
wrote. “The recent nuttiness over Justice Scalia and race. Calling him out
is worse than his view that executing people whose sentences were impacted by
race is fine. It’s a form of inversion. Make the guilty party innocent and the
the Emory University law school’s inaugural John Lewis chair for civil rights
and social justice. He joined the law school in 2021.
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