Peep The Complex Web Woven Against Blacks & Other People Of Color That Allows Police Executions…

As the debate about police mis/​conduct rages at least in con­sci­en­tious cir­cles, I have giv­en the ques­tion much con­sid­er­a­tion and researched why we con­tin­ue to see these instances of police vio­lence with­out any end to them.
In my search for answers, I have been led away from the easy sug­ges­tions of more and bet­ter police train­ing by those who exploit these issues for rat­ings and clicks on the one hand and those on the oth­er side in the Black com­mu­ni­ty who speak in infan­tile terms about this issue by rais­ing hous­ing, edu­ca­tion, employ­ment, and oth­er social issues, as if being prop­er­ly housed, edu­cat­ed, and employed, have stopped police from mur­der­ing inno­cent unarmed black men and women.
The myr­i­ad instances of unlaw­ful vio­lence against peo­ple of col­or by police for minor infrac­tions speak to a sense of impuni­ty, as it does to the sys­tem that makes it almost impos­si­ble for offi­cers to be held account­able for their crimes.
Even in the most extreme cas­es in which the sys­tem can­not twist itself any fur­ther to jus­ti­fy the atroc­i­ties they commit.

It is a com­plex web of deceit, lack of account­abil­i­ty, and racist atti­tudes cre­at­ed to keep African-Americans sub­ject­ed to a dif­fer­ent form of slav­ery that does not result in forced labor on cot­ton plan­ta­tions, one that is far less vis­i­ble in its sav­agery but is no less destruc­tive in its full execution.
In that com­plex web, leg­is­la­tors leg­is­late against seg­ments of the pop­u­la­tion, oth­ers who sign them into law, courts that val­i­date them, and the police who enforce them.
In addi­tion to the cul­ture of racism on which the sys­tem was built, pro­pa­gan­da war­fare is waged by the media and Hollywood in their glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of cop-cul­ture, in films, and on tele­vi­sion. Anything is per­mis­si­ble as long as the good guys get the bad guys.
The pre­sump­tion of inno­cence nev­er makes it into the con­ver­sa­tion when the bad guy’s imagery, whether on tele­vi­sion or in films, con­tin­ues to be the Black guy. The resul­tant out­come is a pop­u­la­tion social­ized into accept­ing bru­tal­i­ty and death on peo­ple of a dark­er hue as a nec­es­sary part of ensur­ing their own safety.
There is no sep­a­ra­tion between either of those groups. The same vot­ers sup­port them all; their abil­i­ty to col­lude, par­tic­u­lar­ly in small towns and in back­woods munic­i­pal­i­ties, makes a mock­ery of the word jus­tice; it opens up to the world the hypocrisy of America’s posi­tion on human rights.
It is a sys­tem so despi­ca­bly tox­ic and com­plic­it that cops who mur­der inno­cent blacks are almost assured of get­ting their jobs back on the rare occa­sion they are fired. If not by the same depart­ment, a depart­ment that wants to show it agrees with the mur­der­ous tac­tics that cop displayed.
“Come over here; we will hire you, Sheriffs and local police depart­ments adver­tise we will stand with you.” In some cas­es, the mur­der­er cop gets pro­mot­ed by the same depart­ment that hired him/​her in the first place; the same depart­ment gets to decide his inno­cence, usu­al­ly with the local pros­e­cu­tor’s com­plic­i­ty and their pro-police grand juries.

At the top of this sys­tem that destroys black lives as a mat­ter of pol­i­cy sits the United States Supreme Court. The Court is the final arbiter of all legal issues. So it bears exam­in­ing how judi­cious the court has been in its delib­er­a­tions and inter­pre­ta­tions of the laws under the constitution.
As we begin that process of exam­i­na­tion, it bears men­tion­ing that the doc­trine of (qual­i­fied immu­ni­ty) that was just last week vot­ed down by the Maryland Legislature last Saturday was cre­at­ed by the Supreme Court, like a shield that allowed police nation­wide to get away with mur­der and oth­er vio­lent crimes com­mit­ted against the pub­lic and has giv­en them the impuni­ty that we see play­ing out in their racist and reck­less assault on the citizenry.

In April of 2015, Sean Rosenthal writ­ing for the Foundation For Education, wrote the fol­low­ing. What makes a Supreme Court deci­sion bad? And what are the worst prece­dents hand­ed down by our high­est court?

I’ve been think­ing about this a lot recent­ly, and here are my nom­i­nees for the worst SCOTUS opin­ions to date.

The stan­dard I’m using for “worst” is three-fold:

  • First, the hold­ing of the case is unam­bigu­ous­ly still guid­ing precedent.
  • Second, the hold­ing of the case is incon­sis­tent with the Constitution.
  • Third, the case either A) have egre­gious con­se­quences for indi­vid­ual lib­er­ty or B) is clear­ly ide­o­log­i­cal- or pol­i­cy-dri­ven rub­bish as a mat­ter of con­sti­tu­tion­al law (whether or not I hap­pen to like the consequences).

Under the first prong, I will exclude from con­sid­er­a­tion a num­ber of infa­mous­ly hor­rif­ic deci­sions: Dred Scott (rul­ing black peo­ple aren’t cit­i­zens), Plessy v. Ferguson (allow­ing sep­a­rate-but-equal), Buck v. Bell(per­mit­ting com­pul­so­ry ster­il­iza­tion), and Korematsu v. United States(uphold­ing Japanese intern­ment camps).

Dred Scott and Plessy have been clear­ly over­ruled. Buck and Korematsumay were not tech­ni­cal­ly over­ruled, but I think the rea­son is that a sim­i­lar case has­n’t pro­vid­ed the oppor­tu­ni­ty. I may be wrong about that for Buck and Korematsu — I hope not — but I am mak­ing the assump­tion that they’re not good law anymore.

Using the sec­ond and third prongs, I think the case that wins the “hon­or” for the worst active Supreme Court deci­sion in American his­to­ry is Helvering v. Davis (1937). Helvering upheld the con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of Social Security on the basis that Congress has a gen­er­al pow­er to spend on what­ev­er it deems to be in the gen­er­al welfare.

This rul­ing com­plete­ly upend­ed the sys­tem of enu­mer­at­ed pow­ers. Congress only had the pow­ers del­e­gat­ed to it by the Constitution and evis­cer­at­ed the Tenth Amendment that restrict­ed the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to its defined roles.

Since Helvering, Congress can spend mon­ey on any­thing it wants, facil­i­tat­ing the wel­fare state and the fed­er­al gov­ern­men­t’s immense growth in the last 80 years. If I had to make a rough esti­mate, I’d say about 75% or more of the spend­ing cur­rent­ly done by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment relies on this hold­ing in Helvering, mak­ing the over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of what the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment does unconstitutional.

Thus, Helvering is the cen­tral case that flipped the sys­tem from lim­it­ing the gov­ern­ment to what is explic­it­ly allowed to per­mit­ting any­thing that isn’t explic­it­ly banned — effec­tive­ly end­ing federalism.

Here are var­i­ous run­ners-up, in approx­i­mate­ly chrono­log­i­cal order:

  1. Slaughter-House Cases /​United States v. Cruikshank (1873 /​1875)
    Rulings: Eviscerated the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the 14th Amendment, pre­vent­ing the Amendment from broad­ly pro­tect­ing indi­vid­ual rights to this day.
  2. Chae Chan Ping v. United States (1889)
    Ruling: Upheld the Chinese Exclusion Act on the basis that Congress has an inher­ent pow­er to restrict migra­tion into the United States, despite Congress not actu­al­ly being enu­mer­at­ed this power.
  3. Hans v. Louisiana (1890)
    Ruling: Declared that the sym­bol­ic mean­ing of the 11th Amendmentpre­vents cit­i­zens from suing their states, even though the text makes no such ref­er­ence, and thus inad­ver­tent­ly dam­aged the 4th Amendment by fore­clos­ing the most effec­tive means of enforc­ing it.
  4. Home Building & Loan Association v. Blaisdell (1934)
    Ruling: Allowed states to alter bank­ing con­tracts after the fact and thus effec­tive­ly elim­i­nat­ed most of the Contracts Clause that pre­vents states from impair­ing pri­vate con­trac­tu­al obligations.
  5. United States v. Carolene Products/​Williamson v. Lee Optical (1938 /​1955)
    Rulings: Removed vir­tu­al­ly all pro­tec­tion for unenu­mer­at­ed rights, par­tic­u­lar­ly eco­nom­ic lib­er­ties, and grant­ed the gov­ern­ment near­ly unlim­it­ed pow­er to bla­tant­ly and unam­bigu­ous­ly pro­mote spe­cial inter­ests at the expense of the public.
  6. Wickard v. Filburn/​Gonzales v. Raich (1942 /​2005)
    Rulings: Allowed Congress’s pow­er to reg­u­late inter­state com­merce to be used to reg­u­late pure­ly local and essen­tial­ly non-com­mer­cial activ­i­ties, and thus empow­ered Congress to reg­u­late essen­tial­ly any­thing it wants.
  7. Baker v. Carr (1962)
    Ruling: Declared that a “One Person, One Vote” stan­dard is essen­tial to democ­ra­cy, despite the fact that the Constitution does­n’t fol­low OPOV in elec­tions for the Senate or the pres­i­den­cy; facil­i­tat­ed ger­ry­man­der­ing by requir­ing every state to redo its dis­tricts every cen­sus to com­ply with OPOV.
  8. Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co./​Runyon v. McCrary (1968 /​1976)
    Rulings: Declared that Congress’s pow­er to ban slav­ery includes a broad pow­er to ban vir­tu­al­ly any­thing that could con­ceiv­ably be deemed dis­crim­i­na­to­ry, includ­ing pri­vate indi­vid­u­als refus­ing to sell pri­vate hous­es or admit stu­dents to pri­vate schools based on race, and thus trans­formed the pow­er to stop slav­ery into a broad pow­er to restrict pri­vate and vol­un­tary choices.
  9. Buckley v. Valeo (1976)
    Ruling: Granted broad def­er­ence to Congress on cam­paign finance restric­tions that lim­it polit­i­cal speech, despite the 1st Amendment’s core pro­tec­tion being for polit­i­cal speech.
  10. Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. (1984)
    Ruling: Granted admin­is­tra­tive agen­cies’ broad def­er­ence in cre­at­ing reg­u­la­tions based on admin­is­tra­tive inter­pre­ta­tions of laws and thus grant­ed admin­is­tra­tive agen­cies of the exec­u­tive branch broad law­mak­ing powers.
  11. McCleskey v. Kemp (1987)
    Ruling: Declared that Georgia’s appli­ca­tion of the death penal­ty did not vio­late its vic­tims’ Equal Protection rights, despite admit­ting that racism played a sub­stan­tial role in deter­min­ing who received the death penal­ty and, by impli­ca­tion, insu­lat­ed the entire crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem from any oblig­a­tion not to be dis­crim­i­na­to­ry in effect or operation.
  12. Morrison v. Olson (1988)
    Ruling: Allowed Congress to cre­ate an inde­pen­dent coun­sel with the pow­er to inves­ti­gate and pros­e­cute peo­ple inde­pen­dent of the pres­i­dent, even though the pres­i­dent is vest­ed with exec­u­tive pow­er, and pros­e­cu­tions are pure­ly exec­u­tive powers.
  13. Kelo v. City of New London (2005)
    Ruling: Declared that using the pow­er of emi­nent domain to take prop­er­ty from poor­er peo­ple and give the prop­er­ty to large cor­po­ra­tions (who pay more tax­es) to be a “pub­lic use” under the Takings Clause of the 5th Amendment.
  14. NFIB v. Sebelius (2012)
    Ruling: Allowed Congress to force peo­ple to buy health insur­ance from pri­vate com­pa­nies on the basis of the reg­u­la­tion being a “tax,” by impli­ca­tion allow­ing Congress to do vir­tu­al­ly any­thing with the tax­ing pow­er that no inde­pen­dent pow­er, even the expan­sive Commerce Clause, would allow.

Mister Rosenthal invit­ed read­ers of his work to feel free to dis­agree with any of his choic­es and encour­ages oth­ers to add their own nom­i­nees for bad­ly decid­ed cas­es in the comments.
♦ I would add the hor­rif­i­cal­ly decid­ed 2013 5 – 4 deci­sion of the court in Shelby County vs. Holder on the issue of vot­ing rights.
On June 25, 2013, the Court ruled by 5 to 4 that Section 4(b) was uncon­sti­tu­tion­al because the cov­er­age for­mu­la was based on data over 40 years old, mak­ing it no longer respon­sive to cur­rent needs and there­fore an imper­mis­si­ble bur­den on the con­sti­tu­tion­al prin­ci­ples of fed­er­al­ism and equal sov­er­eign­ty of the states.
Immediately after the court removed sec­tion 4(b), Republican-run states embarked on a mas­sive cam­paign to pre­vent African-Americans from vot­ing, rival­ing the jim crow era.

The January 21st, 2010 Citizens United deci­sion. The Court over­ruled Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990), which had allowed dif­fer­ent restric­tions on speech-relat­ed spend­ing based on cor­po­rate iden­ti­ty, and a por­tion of McConnell v. FEC (2003) had restrict­ed cor­po­rate spend­ing on elec­tion­eer­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions was argued in 2009 and decid­ed in 2010. The Court held that the free speech clause of the First Amendment pro­hibits the gov­ern­ment from restrict­ing inde­pen­dent expen­di­tures for polit­i­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tions by cor­po­ra­tions, includ­ing non­prof­it cor­po­ra­tions, labor unions, and oth­er asso­ci­a­tions.
Since that rul­ing, the flood­gates have been opened, allow­ing for the cre­ation of super PACs and a tor­rent of oth­er dark mon­ey into the elec­toral process.
This phe­nom­e­non essen­tial­ly endors­es the con­cept of mon­ey talks bull­shit walks. The aver­age American voice has essen­tial­ly been drowned out; the process now caters to the cor­po­rate agenda.





Mike Beckles is a for­mer Police Detective, busi­ness­man, free­lance writer, black achiev­er hon­oree, and cre­ator of the blog mike​beck​les​.com.