Sonia Sotomayor Brilliantly Shuts Down Racist Federal Prosecutor

Illustration for article titled Sonia Sotomayor Brilliantly Shuts Down Racist Federal Prosecutor

Earlier today, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor included a written statement along with the court's rejection of a criminal case. In this unusual action, your favorite justice's letter condemned a federal prosecutor in Texas who behaved like a real dick.


The Huffington Post reports:

Sotomayor took issue with the unidentified prosecutor who, while questioning an African-American defendant in a drug case, asked: "You've got African-Americans, you've got Hispanics, you've got a bag full of money. Does that tell you — a light bulb doesn't go off in your head and say, this is a drug deal?"

The first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, Sotomayor wrote that the prosecutor had "tapped a deep and sorry vein of racial prejudice that has run through the history of criminal justice in our nation."

The question was "pernicious in its attempt to substitute racial stereotype for evidence," she added. Sotomayor also accused the Obama administration of playing down the issue.

The defendant in the case, Bongani Charles Calhoun, wanted the Supreme Court to order a retrial because he said his right to a fair trial was violated when the question was asked. He was convicted of three offenses over his role in a drug conspiracy.

It's important that a Supreme Court Justice came down on this so harshly — hopefully it'll send the message that this sort of shit has to stop. It's cool there are people at the very top who think this behavior is unacceptable, and have the power to do something about it.

Although the SCOTUS rejected the case — saying Calhoun had failed to raise his argument earlier in the appeals process, as required under the law — but Sotomayor also wrote, "I hope never to see a case like this again."

[Huffington Post]



CORRECTION: Sonia Sotomayor is the *second* Latino on the bench (the term "hispanic" is offensive, fyi). The first was Justice Benjamin Cardozo, who was of Portuguese extraction.