SocraticGadfly: George Floyd, SCOTUS and Wall Street: the ties that kill

June 02, 2020

George Floyd, SCOTUS and Wall Street: the ties that kill

Last week, I looked at how issues of the duopoly and lesser evilism extend to the Supreme Court, when one looks outside the lens of reproductive choice and sexual choice rights, and especially when one looks through the lens of criminal justice issues and minorities. Namely, that's the "qualified immunity" doctrine, which the Supreme Court has taken a pass on revising since it was instituted in 1982, as USA Today explains.

The court then had two definite liberals, Marshall and Bill Brennan. Harry Blackmun had by that time become a moderate liberal. Stevens was a moderate conservative. (He later became a moderate but never was a liberal, myth aside.) Powell and White were all definite conservatives, but not Rehnquist-type wingnut. Burger was a pompous conservative squish.  O'Connor was new, a conservative, but not Rehnquist.

Know what the vote was in Harlow v. Fitzgerald, the 1982 determinative case? 8-1. Burger the one dissent.

Per Wiki's page on qualified immunity, the eight justices, many of whom would go on two years later to bend backward for cops on the first phases of good-faith exceptions to the exclusionary rule, now said it would be unfair for them and others to go on trial to distinguish a state of mind when they were acting.  Wiki's page is good at bottom in noting an attorney defending a killer cop will always claim there isn't an EXACT precedent, and that qualified immunity has no obvious root in common law.

Remember, it only takes four judges to grant cert. So, unless four librulz were highly worried that they'd spoil future cases on qualified immunity by granting cert to a less than perfect case, they're full of shit. That's doubly true since Clarence Thomas, saying it has no constitutional grounding, wants to toss it entirely. Now, the librulz might have to do some heavy negotiating with him to, per Bill Brennan, count to five. But, if such a possibility looks realistic, you might rope in Roberts as well.

That backstory leads to everything else of the last 10 days, looping in Christian Cooper as a little pre-igniter for George Floyd.

The GP's National Black Caucus speaks about George Floyd.

DosCentavos implores local leaders to change law enforcement culture after the murder of George Floyd and others killed in recent weeks . 

Cops pepper-spraying black members of Congress ... we need some lawsuits, heavy ones. And, we need to force SCOTUS to revisit the issue of immunity.

Cops firing on the media. More here. And here, noting that we're up to at least 110 such attacks. Contra breathlessness from places like The Atlantic, this might be new for 2020 vs 1968. And, it's clearly deliberate. Like other "all things Trump," it's been there for years in its current form, since the worst of the anti-"Occupy Wall Street" police violence. It's just that the 2016 election gave new "permission" for this, removing dogwhistles.

The militarization of police (NOT generally condemned by the NYT when it started) is probably part of the problem. (That includes, in the story, re Grits, thuggish cops in Austin and Seattle.)

Grits has a new roundup related to this. On qualified immunity, he says nothing is stopping state legislators from abolishing it and, if cops want to fight, setting up a straight-on test case, presumably.

That said, per friend Northier, let's not forget that, as in 1968, agents provacateurs have shown up at some sites. That's NOT to engage in "he said, she said" journalism as the Old Gray Lady does above. Legitimate protestors are certainly the majority. But, it's again, a reminder that I'm not a fan of anarchism in general or anarcho-greens within the Green Party.

Thus, if there is worth in a "financial lynching of Wall Street," it would need to be targeted, specific, and with the hope and intent of forcing change, not just looting for looting's sake. If it targets Wall Street, it needs to target Wall Street. If it's the police, it needs to target banks that still redline loans, creating suburbs of white enclaves, and then needs to target war-machine companies profiting from police militarization. Let's also remember that courts have let redlining off with hand-slaps, and that, as with other white-collar crime, even "librul" Departments of Justice have settled cases regularly with only fines, no time.

Being a black reporter, between new rounds of police brutality, COVID race and class disparity, and neoliberal newsrooms, is tiring.

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