This term, the Supreme Court will address several questions regarding the extent to which the criminal justice system will tolerate racial prejudice. While the answer ought to be “very little” or “not at all,” the Court is confronting two cases where lower courts believed the scale tipped in favor of letting open race discrimination stand, at the expense of defendants’ right to a fair and impartial trial. Presented with these issues head on, the Supreme Court must now recalibrate that scale, and make good on its own centuries-old precedents requiring that race discrimination be “eradicated root and branch” from the criminal justice system.
Last week the Court heard argument in Buck v. Davis, a case in which Duane Buck was sentenced to death because his own counsel relied on an expert witness who testified that because Mr. Buck was African-American, he was more likely to commit future acts of violence. Read more