July 2 – Happy Birthday, Thurgood Marshall

Posted on July 2, 2018

Today we honor the first black U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

The judicial branch is crucial to having a democracy. So many people seem to feel that other people's rights should be a matter of voting. For example, I've heard nice, smart people say things like, "Well, majority rules, so gay people can't marry!" 

That's like saying, "Well, there are more white people in the U.S. than there are black people, and we had a vote, and it turns out most of us don't think black people should be able to vote! Majority rules!"

It definitely shouldn't work that way. We have a Constitution and some very good amendments that say, "It doesn't work that way." And we have a judicial branch to say - "Yeah, this law, that statement, and this other action don't follow the Constitution."

That's because "majority rules" is only a good way of doing SOME sorts of things. When it comes to dealing with many issues, it's better to consider philosophical and ethical ideas such as the Golden Rule and the Bill of Rights. We cannot vote on human rights - people of every gender and racial / ethnic background have (and should have) human rights just because they are human. 

Thurgood Marshall knew that and argued well for civil rights as a lawyer, including his most famous case of Brown v. Board of Education (about school segregation). He knew how important it is to stand up for human rights for EVERYbody as a federal judge, and he worked for human rights as a Supreme Court justice, as well.

Presidents would do well to nominate people as ethical and fair as Marshall, and Senators would do well to approve only nominations of judges who have demonstrated such understanding.

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