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A Marshallian Mistake

Here’s a letter to USA Today:

Thurgood Marshall indeed deserves high praise for his work to rid the United States of Jim Crow legislation (Yolanda Young, “Thurgood Marshall blazed a path for civil rights,” Feb. 18).  But while on the U.S. Supreme Court, he turned a blind eye to an institution that disproportionately imprisons, disenfranchises, and discriminates against blacks: the war on drugs.

Interviewed in 1987 by Life, Justice Marshall said “If it’s a dope case, I won’t even read the petition. I ain’t giving no break to no dope dealer.”

Quite apart from the question of whether or not drugs should be legalized, Justice Marshall’s practice of automatically siding with the government in every drug case gave a free pass to government officials not only to violate the Constitution in their pursuit of alleged drug offenders, but also to act on whatever bigotry and prejudices they might have had as long as these officials could claim that their actions were part of the drug war.

Donald J. Boudreaux


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