How the Supreme Court Laid the Foundations for ‘Racialized Policing’

How the Supreme Court Laid the Foundations for ‘Racialized Policing’

The Supreme Court of the United States. Photo by Matt Wade via Flickr When Berkeley Law School Dean and constitutional scholar Erwin Chemerinsky taught Criminal Procedure in the Fall of 2019, he became frustrated when he realized many of the cases that were the subject of his lectures ended with the police winning and the rights of suspects losing. So Chemerinsky, one of the nation’s leading authorities on constitutional law, decided to write a book focusing on how the Supreme Court has (or has not) addressed the challenge of policing throughout its judicial history. The title neatly summed up his conclusion : “Presumed Guilty: How the Supreme Court Empowered the Police and Subverted Civil Rights.” While Chemerinsky doesn’t believe public opinion can—or should—influence the Supreme Court, he is worried about Court’s increasingly conservative trend. He believes, instead, that the political process – operating through Congress, state legislatures, city councils—offers the best hope of change. In a wide-ranging conversation with The Crime Report, Chemerinsky discusses why modern policing’s roots as slave patrols is critical to an understanding of law enforcement today, why Terry v. Ohio was the biggest mistake made during the most liberal era in Supreme Court history, and why the concept of policing in a democracy has been struggling to regain its footing ever since. [The following transcript has been edited for space and clarity.] THE CRIME REPORT: To start, I’m curious about why you think people might have the impression that the Supreme Court upholds rights when […]

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