Judge Jackson’s Jurisprudence Comes to LA

OWhat does the Los Angeles City Council President’s racist rantings have to do with a congressional redistricting case in the Supreme Court?


Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson wants race to be the deciding factor in how states are allowed to draw their lines in Congress. Bigoted statements by former Los Angeles City Council Democratic President Nury Martinez show exactly how Jackson’s case law will play out if the court finds the Alabama congressional card violates voting rights law.


Alabama has had seven congressional seats for decades, and one of them (the one that includes Birmingham) has always had a black majority. The lines on the Congressional map have changed very little over the years, but now Democrats are suing Alabama in federal court, demanding a new map that creatively connects black neighborhoods on the Gulf Coast to black neighborhoods near of northwest Georgia to create a second black majority. congressional constituency.

Not all Democrats are so eager to be separated from their regional brethren. State Rep. Adline Clarke, Democrat of Mobile, Alabama, said in 2021, “I view Mobile and Baldwin counties as a political subdivision and would prefer these two Gulf Coast counties to remain in the same district of Congress because government, business and industry in both counties work well together, with our Congressman, for the common good of both counties.

It all makes sense. Counties in the same region have similar needs from the federal government, and they benefit from having a representative dedicated to those needs.

Jackson, however, thinks race should trump all other interests. Signaling her support for plaintiffs challenging Alabama’s current congressional map, she pushed back against arguments that race shouldn’t be a factor in drawing congressional lines.

“The framers themselves enacted the Equal Protection Clause, the 14th Amendment, the 15th Amendment, in a race-conscious manner,” the Supreme Court justice said. “I looked at the report that was submitted by the Joint Committee on Reconstruction, which wrote the 14th Amendment, and that report says the purpose of the amendment was to secure the rights of freed former slaves.”

Except that the way the framers decided to secure the rights of freed former slaves was through “equal protection of the laws,” not racial quotas or racial gerrymandering. The Voting Rights Act itself even reads: “Nothing in this article establishes a right to elect the members of a protected class in number equal to their proportion in the population”. But that’s exactly what Jackson and the Democratic plaintiffs are trying to do: use the Voting Rights Act to secure Alabama’s 27% black population 28% of the state’s House seats.

Two thousand miles from Alabama, Los Angeles, leaked recordings of a meeting between three Los Angeles City Council members and an AFL-CIO official show what Jackson’s racial determinism looks like in practice .

“F*** this guy. … He’s with black people,” Martinez said of Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon. Martinez also calls council member Mike Bonin’s child “that little monkey” in Spanish, adding that Bonin is effectively the council’s “fourth black member” and “a little bitch” who will “never say anything about [in favor of] Latinos.

The union official does not object to any of these racial remarks but adds: “I understand what we have to do. Just massage in to create neighborhoods that benefit everyone.

The context of this meeting is the same as that of the Alabama affair — the redistricting. Los Angeles has 15 city council seats, three of which are held by blacks, even though the black population has shrunk from 15% in 1970 to 8% today. Meanwhile, Latinos have only three seats on the council, even though Latinos now make up 48% of the city’s population.

By Jackson’s own logic, the 14th Amendment requires Latinos to get at least four and possibly five more council seats. Martinez’s bigoted pronouncements are just the natural result of race-conscious justice jurisprudence.

Hopefully the majority of the court will go in the opposite direction.


Elna M. Lemons