Our Racist Criminal Justice System (Part Two)

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Lauren and Nathan discuss the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and how the Supreme Court has weakened its protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. Under the current Fourth Amendment case law, police have unfettered discretion in how they conduct their investigations, which has helped to further perpetuate racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
Episode One (Part Two) Research Notes:

Books Referenced:

Frank R. Baumgartner, Derek A. Epp, & Kelsey Shoub, Suspect Citizens: What 20 Million Traffic Stops Tell Us About Policing and Race (2018).

Michael Tonry, Punishing Race: A Continuing American Dilemma (2011).

Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2011).

Cases Referenced:

Atwater v. City of Lago Vista, 532 U.S. 318 (2001) (holding that an officer’s subjective intentions for making a discretionary arrest are not relevant in the Fourth Amendment’s reasonableness analysis – setting the stage for pre-text arrests).

California v. Acevedo, 500 U.S. 565 (1991) (Breyer, J., dissenting) (calling the conservative majority of the Court “loyal foot soldiers in the Executive’s fight against crime,” i.e. – War on Drugs based on the facts of the case).

Florida v. Bostock, 501 U.S. 429 (1991) (holding police do not have to inform an individual of their right to refuse a consent search).

Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989) (holding that officers’ subjective intentions do not play a role in the reasonableness analysis when determining whether an officer used excessive force).

McCleskey v. Kemp, 481 U.S. 279 (1987) (reinforcing the purposeful discriminatory intent rule despite extremely strong evidence of disparate racial impact – virtually closing off all equal protections claims to sentencing).

Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106 (1977) (allowing police to make drivers leave their cars during routine stops for officer safety).

Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412 U.S. 218 (1973) (holding consent was voluntarily obtained despite Bustamonte’s unawareness of his right to refuse consent, which provoked the dissent to point out how the “police [will] capitalize on the ignorance of citizens” to disregard the limitations placed on them by the U.S. Constitution).

Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1 (1985) (holding an officer may not use excessive force “unless it is necessary to prevent the escape and the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others”).

Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968) (holding an officer’s “stop and frisk” of an African American man is constitutional under the Fourth Amendment as long as the officer had reasonable suspicion a crime is being committed).

United States v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544 (1980) (holding officer’s initial contact with an African American woman who fit a “drug courier profile” was not an unlawful seizure under the Fourth Amendment).

Washington v. Davis, 426 U.S. 229 (1976) (establishing the “purposeful discriminatory intent” requirement under equal protection law, largely ignoring disparate racial impact).

Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806 (1996) (accepting police pre-textual stops as constitutional under the Fourth Amendment and pointing to the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause as recourse for racially discriminatory stops).

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