The Landmark Unanimous 1954 Supreme Court Decision, Brown v. Board of Education, was Never Thought To be Questionable. Then Came Donald Trump’s Nomination of Wendy Vitter.
America lost a true icon last month when civil rights activist Linda Brown passed away at the age of 76. Brown was the named plaintiff (due to the alphabetic listing) in the historic class action lawsuit Brown v. Board of Education originally filed in 1951 and decided by the Supreme Court in 1954 that once and for all overturned Plessy v. Ferguson‘s codification of racial segregation and ended the practice of forcing children of color to attend a separate (and almost exclusively inferior) school than their white peers. One of the most celebrated decisions in the history of the court, it’s hard to find any jurist or legal scholar that wouldn’t agree with the court’s outcome. Unless they were nominated by President Donald Trump.
Wendy Vitter — Trump’s nominee to be district judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana — was asked what appeared to be a very easy question by Senator Richard Blumenthal during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee: “Do you believe that Brown v. Board of Education was correctly decided?”
A softball question, right? There is literally nothing to gain by answering anything other than “Yes, Senator, I do.” The last thing the Trump administration needs, given their obscenely disturbing history of bigotry and racist dog whistles, is to appear to be in favor of school segregation.
But Vitter swung and missed at Blumenthal’s lob in tremendous fashion:
“Senator, I don’t mean to be coy, but I think I get into a difficult area when I start commenting on Supreme Court decisions, which are correctly decided and which I may disagree with. Again, my personal, political or religious views I would set aside. That is Supreme Court precedent. It is binding. If I were honored to be confirmed I would be bound by it and of course I would uphold it.”
Instead of verbally crucifying her on the spot, as many I’m sure would have done without hesitation, Blumenthal asked her once again if she believed it was correctly decided. For Vitter it was strike two:
Again, I would respectfully not comment on what could be my boss’ ruling, the Supreme Court. I would be bound by it. And if I start commenting on I agree with this case or don’t agree with this case, I think we get into a slippery slope.
Vitter — who’s husband David was the key figure in an embarrassing prostitution scandal — presently serves as the general counsel for the Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans. Her nomination to the federal bench resulted in the American Bar Association applying its lowest qualified rating. When somebody won’t affirm that Brown v. Board of Education was correctly decided, and leaves the door open to suspicions of sympathy for school segregation, they’re probably not qualified to watch an episode of “Law & Order”, let alone enjoy a lifetime appointment to the federal judiciary.
You can see the entire uncomfortable exchange here, courtesy of The Leadership Conference on Twitter:
WATCH: During her confirmation hearing this morning (yes, this morning – in 2018), judicial nominee Wendy Vitter refused to say whether she agreed with the result in Brown v. Board of Education. #UnfitToJudge pic.twitter.com/RWroh0XUIC
— The Leadership Conference (@civilrightsorg) April 11, 2018