Biden administration won’t join Gorsuch in seeking to overturn racist SCOTUS cases
Between 1901 and 1904, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled on a series of cases, known collectively as the Insular cases, which asked whether the Constitution should fully apply to residents of Puerto Rico and other territories recently acquired by the United States after its victory in Spain. -American War. The Court held that the Constitution did not fully apply in these US-controlled territories.
Island affairs have been harshly criticized – then and now – for being the product of racist and imperialist thinking. Lawyer Walter F. Pratt Jr., author of Island Affairs: The Role of the Judiciary in American Expansionismcalled the legal arguments at issue “largely racially motivated”, since the Court effectively held that “the inhabitants of the New Territories were not fit to become citizens”.
A similar criticism of Island cases was recently voiced by Justice Neil Gorsuch, who argued that “Island cases have no basis in the Constitution and are instead based on racial stereotypes. They deserve no place in our law.” .
Gorsuch’s characterization is apt. take the case Dorr v. United States (1904), which asked whether the constitutional right to a jury trial should exist in the Philippines. The Court said no, observing that “the uncivilized parts of the archipelago were utterly incapable of exercising the right to trial by jury”.
In other words, it was racism and imperialism in the guise of a Supreme Court opinion.
Gorsuch also added his voice to those calling for the island cases to be erased from the books. “Now is the time to recognize that island business rests on a rotten foundation,” Gorsuch wrote. “And I hope the day will come soon when the Court will strike them down outright.”
Alas, the Justice Department under President Joe Biden apparently sees things differently. As The Washington Post‘s Robert Barnes recently reported, “The Biden administration told the Supreme Court on Monday that it should not pursue a case [Fitisemanu v. United States] on citizenship rights for American Samoa, even though advocates say it would give judges a chance to overturn a string of century-old precedents that have been roundly denounced as racist.”
Unsurprisingly, the Biden administration’s position has been criticized. “Fans were disappointed that [Solicitor General Elizabeth] Prelogar has asked the high court not to take up the case,” said the Job Remarks. “”It’s shocking that the Biden-Harris administration and Solicitor General continue to bring Island Affairs to life, which was predicated on a vision of white supremacy that has no place in our society, let alone the filed briefs by the US Department of Justice. “said Neil Weare, president and founder of Equally American, which defends equal rights in American territories.
To say the least, Gorsuch probably hasn’t been portrayed as “awake” very often. But he certainly seems more ready to act against the government’s systemic racism in this case than does the liberal Biden administration.