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March 29 2019

"Woke" Justice Seen in Smollett Case

by Charlotte Hays

The special treatment of Jussie Smollett, who had charges dropped after allegedly faking a "hate crime" against himself,  has led many (including your humble blogger) to comment that justice was not blind in the Smollett case. 

Heather Mac Donald, however, argues in a must-read piece in City Journal that this wasn't a case of there being a different justice for the rich and famous but rather of "justice" being based on identity politics.

In "When Prosecutorial  Discretion Is Woke," Mac Donald writes the unequal justice in the Smollett case was not based on fame or money: 

[The decision to drop charges against Smollett] is rather the latest example of the incursion of academic identity politics into the workings of government.

Had Smollett been a straight white male who had staged his own attack by fake Antifa Trump antagonists, he would most certainly still be facing a trial and the prospect of prison time.

But [Cook County Prosecutor Kim] Foxx is a leading figure in the recent national wave of progressive local prosecutors who came to power by playing race politics.

She campaigned on the Critical Race Theory credo that the criminal-justice system is endemically biased. She inveighed against the so-called school-to-prison pipeline and promised to reduce racial disparities in prosecutions.

Last month, she dismissed aggravated battery charges against a 16-year-old student who had attacked two Chicago police officers; the Chicago police union argued that her dismissal of the charges fit a pattern of favoring offenders over police officers.

Foxx operates in a cultural milieu that holds that the fact that a hate crime is a hoax is less important than the fact that it could have been true. Prosecuting Smollett could have sent another black man to prison. Is there a race-based system of justice here?

There has been pushback in the developing Smollett case, with the city of Chicago presenting the actor with a bill for $130,000, which is the estimated cost of police department investigation  the alleged hoax.

Nevertheless, the Smollett case probably won't be the last incident of "woke" justice. Mac Donald explains:

More and more law school graduates, steeped in Believe Survivors ideology and critical race theory, will enter positions of power in the criminal-justice system in the coming years.

Whether they erode our expectations of political neutrality in favor of “social justice” remains to be seen. One thing is certain, however: the dismissal of the Smollett indictment will encourage more such social justice-inspired hate-crime hoaxes, which will continue to find a credulous audience in the media and among academic and political elites.

If this takes hold, it will be a radical departure from legal norms as they have developed in western jurisprudence.

Equality under the law will not even be an ideal.

 





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