SCOTUS and The Scales of Justice

A response to: The Chief Justice, Searching for Middle Ground by Linda Greenhouse

Scales of Justice
Sharece Naomi Thomas

Sharece Naomi Thomas

Contributing Writer at RYSE
Sharece Naomi Thomas is a graduate of Georgia State University and Atlanta's John Marshall Law School.In 2016, Sharece founded her writing company, The Write To Freedom, LLC., where she, among other things, helps students and second-career professionals become better scholastic and/or persuasive writers.
Sharece Naomi Thomas

It is February 6, 2018, 12:34 PM.  The President of The Unites States is a broken man.  Race relations are at a historic high, post the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s, due to disproportionate treatment of minorities by law enforcement.  Our economy is backed by promises to pay, and the middle class is disappearing.  During such a colorful time in U.S. history, those who look to the Judiciary for justice, should be slightly put at ease, considering the slow, but progressive unconventional movement of those in our US Supreme Court.

In addressing our Supreme Court, Linda Greenhouse magnifies beneficial inconsistencies in Chief Justice Roberts opinions, or, at the very least, his hesitations in creating opinions.  Greenhouse alludes that the conservative Chief Judge has inched away from his traditional ways of justice, in three specific cases: 

 John Roberts

In the first case, Chief Justice Roberts agreed to a stay of execution based on the argument that the State of Alabama no longer allows for Judges to override a jury’s decision, calling the act unconstitutional.  Knowing the consistently conservative tendencies of Chief Justice Roberts helps to shed light on why this seemingly small step should be considered, to most, a step in the left direction.  What would be most expected, would be for Chief Justice Roberts to agree to not hear the case, considering it was already ruled on, and, at the time the case was heard, the standing law governed.  From my humble perspective, there is no reason to not hear the case.  It would go against human conscience to think it right to execute a defendant with a mental illness, that he did not have when he was initially incarcerated; an illness that does not allow him to remember the act that caused his incarceration.  While I am not of the belief that the defendant should be released, which would open the floodgates to similar cases (with not so vulnerable defendants) I do believe the silver lining of justice holds that such a defendant deserves to live out the remainder of his days in his current state.  Nevertheless, with regards to Chief Justice Roberts, be it internal conflicts, a distain for the current political climate, or a sincere change of heart that has nothing to do with external factors, Chief Justice Roberts has slightly gone against what he once would, possibly, never do.

Subsequently, and very similarly, Chief Justice Roberts granted a stay of execution, based on a racist juror in the initial trial.  Both victim and defendant were black, and the juror was white.  On its face, the case does not seem like anything arguable.  Common decency would think that if the jury has been tainted by internal, or external, biases, the case must be retried.  However, as it is often said among millennials, there is a mental fracture between the thought processes of our highest Court, and the majority at work on the ground.  Thankfully, we are seeing some light.  Chief Justice Roberts has agreed to at least allow the case a chance to be heard, despite race.  While I cannot come to say why this case is an arguable thing, I can agree that we are observing change from those we need it from the most.

The final case was based on a complex procedural statute of limitations and filing deadline issue.  Chief Justice Roberts allowed for the clock to stop on a States statute of limitations, giving the plaintiff more time to re-file in State Court, while the federal issue was pending in Federal Court.  The two main legal issues are: (1) Whether the US Supreme Court is preempting State laws from taking effect in their cases; and (2) Whether it is just to allow a plaintiff more time to re-file in state court, despite what the State intended when it drafted its statute of limitations.  I would argue, based on the dissent, that the moral issue is whether we are being too lenient on plaintiffs, which, according to Justice Gorsuch, is an abomination.  While, in my humble opinion, the dissent is being theatrical, the point they are making is understandable.  Higher Courts must respect the guidelines given to lower Courts in order for our system to work harmoniously, and with integrity.  If a party has the ability to go over their state court rules, in hopes to achieve the results they want, how is that different from forum shopping, which is also despising to Courts?  Maybe I am wrong, and there is a deeper level of understanding that I am missing; but, from what I can see, the majority, in an effort to possibly be gracious to one side, may have gone against what is just to the opposing side, and acted contrary to the fairness of our laws.

In closing, in one way or another, we all want justice.  We all want life to be fair, and peaceful, for, mostly, the people we love.  Unfortunately, what these sentiments look like varies greatly; and the results thereof have divided our nation for hundreds of years.  My hope, and prayer, is that our Justices, and the like, start to see, as Chief Justice Roberts may have, that there is another side that is more than deserving of freedom and justice.  Deviating from precedent that is premised on tainted theologies and philosophies may bring about the freedom and justice prayed for.  When given freedom and justice, most who will benefit therefrom will be most thankful, and will do no harm, once given better opportunities to live as men and women should. 


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