Judges "of color" to only be replaced by judges "of color" (proposed RI law)

Came across this proposed law while looking for something else.

I have a feeling that this does not have a serious chance of being enacted into law, but don’t really know.

But in any event, does anyone support this? Is it constitutional altogether?

[Aside: does “person of color” have a legal meaning? If so, what is it? How much color would you need to have? What if you get appointed just after coming back from vacation and then your tan fades? :)]

Sounds unconstitutional (IANAL). I’d oppose it, but I’m willing to listen to arguments in favor.

I would oppose it as well. I think whoever is appointing judges should always look for ways to maintain and/or increase diversity on the bench. I don’t think this is a good way to accomplish that.

“white” doesn’t have a legal meaning, but that didn’t stop them from putting it in laws starting in 1681.

I don’t see any state where this has a possibility of passing needing to pass a law like this. The states that might need it are the ones that would never pass it.

With that said, I think its a horrible idea no matter what.

I do not think the proponents of this law would see the replacement of Thurgood Marshall with Clarence Thomas as preferable to someone like Shirley Hufstedler (a white woman)

Exactly the question I had, and one that’s very relevant to a law like this.

While I don’t agree with this law, despite understanding the misguided intent the “one drop rule” would be the most likely method.


Not likely to be constitutional.

Although affirmative action policies are complicated, with a lot of different and conflicting precedent in different areas, one guidestar is that any such policy to be constitutional must be tailored to some specific history of racial discrimination in the relevant jurisdiction.

I’m sure Rhode Island has that relevant history, but almost certainly it is limited to some particular groups, like African-Americans or Latinos. If there is no modern history of discrimination against, say, American Indians in Rhode Island (or any other group that considers itself non-white), then the law would be very difficult to uphold. And given that it’s essentially a quota, and one not tied to any demographic figure, I think it would be nearly impossible.

(That’s aside from whether the law is wise or workable, both of which seem dubious.)

So what if people “of color” was defined as American-Americans and/or Latinos?

So I’ve spent a bit of time poking around. Anastasia Williams, the bill’s sponsor, doesn’t appear to mention it on her website. I can’t find any interviews with her about it, or any background information. This looks to me like one of the foolish and totally ineffective things that rare liberasl do, and that conservatives delight in publicizing.

No, it has no serious chance. No, no liberal I know supports this sort of foolishness.

As an aside, I’ve never cared for the term “persons of color”. I wear blue jeans, I don’t wear “jeans of blue”. (I do recognize that the term “colored persons” is regarded as offensive and tend to use the term “racial minorities” as a substitute “catch-all” term.)

If “whites” can be replaced by “persons of color”, and “persons of color” can only be replaced by “persons of color”, then eventually…

…100% all-POC bench.

Identity politics run wild. “We don’t care about experience, work ethic, knowledge, or judgment… just color.”

BTW, when did white stop being a color?

You guys all just want white judges, you’re racist.

Why isn’t this posted in the “Stupid Liberal of the Day” BBQ Pit thread? It more than qualifies.

I can’t tell what’s going on with this bill, Legiscan says it was sent to the RI House Judiciary Committee, but doesn’t list it as a bill pending before that committee. It’s hard to find any references to it; it appears to be one representative’s baby.

Probably around this time.

Would George Hamilton qualify?

It’s on the second page of that list, about halfway down the page. It looks like it’s one of three bills she proposed to try to get more people of color on the bench. She’s also proposed that at least 3 people of color be on the judicial nominating committee:

and a bill to propose that the state aggressively solicit people of color from Mass. and Connecticut to apply for judicial appointments:

I don’t know, let’s think it through.

Imagine the best possible facts for the bill’s sponsor:
[li]There is a clear and recent history of open discrimination against AA or Latino judges[/li][li]The proportion of AA or Latino judges is less than their population among lawyers[/li][li]Other attempts to avoid bias toward white judges have failed[/li][li]Rigorous merit selection will still be employed, and there’s no reason to think the policy will favor less qualified judges[/li][li]Maybe even the process of selecting judges changed at some point to secure the balance of white judges (changing to statewide instead of district appointments or whatever)[/li][/ul]

Given that (theoretical) context, would a measure requiring that there be no fewer than the current number of AA or Latino judges past constitutional muster?

Still probably not, but I’m not sure it’s obviously foreclosed by controlling law. At that point, it starts to look more like the VRA’s requirement of minority representation, or minority-preference contractor policies that have survived scrutiny under Croson.

The big split in jurisprudence right now is between (painting with a broad brush) conservatives who think the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits all race-conscious policymaking and liberals who think it permits race-conscious policies that are narrowly tailored to redress past discrimination. Kennedy is the swing vote on that, at the moment (assuming Gorsuch is confirmed), probably siding with the liberals.

Even taking the liberals’ view, I think it’s hard to argue that a crude quota, tied arbitrarily to some current number, is a narrowly tailored response. But I think it’s possible to imagine facts that might make that so.