If you happened to have graduated from law school at any point since 1955, you have read Earl Warren’s masterful opinion in Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark civil rights case that served as a single bullet shot through the heart of the idea (if not the practice) that American “apartheid” had a right to exist under our constitution. Warren’s genius in the opinion is not just in its language, which could be read as literature, but in his recognition that a case that would reshape the American landscape forever, had to be unanimous, lest the constitutional strength of the Court be tested.
Indeed, the opinion has aged better than any wine, looking wiser with each decade. “Unanimity” in appreciation of its importance and strength is rather easy to find, nowadays. But, leave it to Donald Trump to find someone to nominate to the federal court in Louisiana (the state that brought us Plessy v. Ferguson, no less), who has sufficient qualms about “Brown” so as to be “coy” in her views.
Surely, Senator Richard Blumenthal believed Louise Vitter (yes, wife of ex-Senator David Vitter) deserved a softball to hit out of the park as a lead-off question to her as a nominee to the federal bench. He thus asked: Did Vitter believe that Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that signaled the end of Jim Crow was correctly decided?
I have been to law school, and I even graduated, so I will help all of you with the good sense to have passed on the idea of a legal education. The answer is “Yes, Senator, I do believe it was correctly decided.” Then, await the real questioning to begin.
Instead, Mrs. Vitter lined up ten rakes, one for each toe to step upon, and proceeded to whack herself in the face:
“I don’t mean to be coy, but I think I can get into a difficult, difficult area when I start commenting on Supreme Court decisions — which are correctly decided and which I may disagree with.”
Ms. Vitter? Yes, you could possibly get into a difficult, difficult area, when you start commenting on Supreme Court decisions, and which are correctly decided. Except you cannot do so when the question is asked of Brown v. Board of Education. When asked about that case, the “difficult area” is found when one gets “coy.” From her answer, we have every indication that Blumenthal could have asked about Plessy v. Ferguson, Koramatsu, or why not just go all the way and ask whether she believes she could get into trouble opining on whether Dred Scott had been properly decided? Would her answer be any more ridiculous?
But, this is where we are now in this nation. The lunatic fringe is now the mainstream, and not wanting to answer whether you believe Brown v. Board of Education was “correctly decided” is now “okay” as a “wink” to the others out on that fringe.
Because, in not answer the question, Mrs.Vitter told us more than any straight answer possibly could. Mrs. Vitter knew damn well the answer to the question, the only acceptable answer to people who are not monsters, and chose to bat her eyes at the 25% of this country that believes Brown to be an abomination, and not the Supreme Court’s finest hour.
The “best people.”