Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dear 11th Circuit: Someone Doesn't Like You!

We previously covered the 11th Circuit's most recent "boy" opinion back in late August, but for whatever reason the NYT has finally got around to it in a blistering piece by Adam Liptak:

Notwithstanding the nudge from the Supreme Court, a different panel of the 11th Circuit overturned the second verdict last month.
The judges had not seen the testimony and so had to infer “inflection” and “tone of voice” from a transcript. They probably knew less about “local custom and historical usage” than the jurors did. But the judges in the majority nonetheless ruled that “a reasonable jury could not have found” race discrimination.

The court went further, criticizing Mr. Hithon’s lawyers for eliciting testimony likening the word “boy” to the most charged of racial epithets, saying that their conduct had been “highly improper.”

But U. W. Clemon, who was a civil rights lawyer before becoming Alabama’s first black federal judge in 1980, said in an interview that the two terms had the same force.

Mr. Clemon, who resigned from the bench last year, said he had followed the Hithon case closely. He added that he knew something about the “local custom and historical usage” of the word “boy,” having grown up in the segregated South.

“It’s the same as calling him a nigger,” the retired judge said.

Stephen B. Bright, president of the Southern Center for Human Rights, said the Atlanta appeals court was an outlier among the federal appeals courts, one that is consistently hostile to suits from people claiming racial discrimination.

“There is no such thing as racial discrimination in employment in the 11th Circuit,” Mr. Bright said, adding that the court’s response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hithon case amounted to “outright defiance.” 
Tapped takes it one step further, noting -- as others have -- the lack of diversity on our appellate bench:
More broadly, this puts further lie to the conservative claim that judges can be impartial "umpires" calling "balls and strikes" in their application of the law. The 11th Circuit Court is dominated by older white men of the South. Conservative hostility to claims of racial discrimination aside, is it really any surprise that the court failed to see the racial implications in calling an African American employee boy?
Again I think this criticism goes too far, but these are not the kind of national headlines you'd like to see generated for our (mostly) benign overlords in Atlanta.

All together now...
1... 2... 3...

Here we are
in Shangri-La...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

SFL, you missed wonkette on the decision too.

Most everyone agrees that, after Barack Obama was elected, almost all racism in America ended. But there’s still a little racism around, if you can find it! Still, you will need to establish a consensus of white people before you can truly deem someone’s actions to be motivated by racial animus. Take, for instance, the case of an African-American chicken plant employee who started with a job hanging live chickens onto hooks and worked his way up to the bottom rungs of management, then got passed over for promotion in favor of two white guys by a white boss who called him “boy.” Would you say that maybe there was some racism at play here? Two overwhelmingly white juries in Alabama did, as did John Roberts’ Supreme Court! Thank goodness the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is here to stop all this race-card playing.

Read more at Wonkette: Appeals Court: Call Black Guys ‘Boy’ All You Want, It’s Not Racist

Beowulf said...

As I read the decision, the legal issue is evidentiary value of "stray remarks." Even if the "stray remark" were "nigger," it would not be sufficient to impose liability. Morally justifiable or not, that's the law.

Anonymous said...

How do you explain federal Judge Jack T. Camp admitting he gave Black men harsher sentences when they came into his courtroom

How do you explain another judge for the 11th circuit intentionally leaving out a minority pro se litigants evidence in a civil case
and then ACTUALLY lying on record in an order and opinion to dismiss "see court Docket and view Documents 6,4, and 14" which caused the case against the state of Georgia to have to then be appealed because of his obviously bias mindset which caused him to twist facts. If these facts were fairly and initially allowed by him the state would have been liable on the spot for treating section 8 participants of COLOR like frigging animals. Then the state employees do even more damage to the plantiff in retaliation because of being exposed and sued see court Document 20!! The more things change the more they stay the same. There is still ample bias in Georgia because people want to tolerate it and make it into something other than the discrimination it is against persons of color and by people whose job it is to know better!!

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