The Supreme Court heard arguments Monday on the constitutionality of a Louisiana law that allows criminal convictions based on jury verdicts that aren’t unanimous.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh pointed out that the Louisiana law had racist roots. He noted that there were two “practical reasons” to overrule the precedent the state relied on. One was unfairness to defendants who may well have a constitutional right to a unanimous jury, and the other was the law’s apparently 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,” the justice 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 asked Murrill. She replied that the law was not “fundamentally unfair.” But Kavanaugh didn’t look convinced.
Although the conservative justice seems a somewhat unlikely champion of minorities, he recently also authored the majority opinion in a case reversing a quadruple murder conviction based on a racist jury selection process and is actually steeped in the topic. The opinion was an eloquent condemnation of racism.
Kavanaugh’s unexpected question was just one sign that, as ever, it will be impossible to predict where the justices fall on any issue until they reveal their decisions.
Kavanaugh only “seems a somewhat unlikely champion of minorities” to actual collectivists, toxic “feminists” and “reverse” racists who claim to speak for minorities.