New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker asked a very relevant question to Michael Brennan, one of Trump’s judicial nominees, during Brennan’s confirmation hearing on Wednesday.
Booker skillfully pressed Brennan, a Wisconsin lawyer nominated to the U.S. Court Of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, on racial bias in the criminal justice system. Unsurprisingly, Brennan wouldn’t admit to the existence of racial bias and did the obvious sidestep. Check this out:
Here’s a recap of how it went down between Booker and Brennan:
“Do you think implicit racial bias exists in our criminal justice system?” asked Booker, who is one of three Black members ever on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“…I would indicate only that I would do my very best as a judge to ensure that no biases came in,” said Brennan.
“You’re aware that African-Americans are stopped more than whites for drug searches in this country?” Booker, a 2020 presidential candidate hopeful. “That there’s no difference between blacks and whites for using drugs or dealing drugs, but [blacks] are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for it? You’re aware of the data, I imagine, that says African-Americans are more likely to get mandatory minimum sentences for the same crime. You’re probably aware of the data that African-Americans are more likely to serve more time for similar crimes.”
The senator asked a second time: “Do you think implicit racial bias exists in the criminal justice system as you know it?”
The rest of the story goes that Booker kept asking Brennan, and he kept dodging the question. Brennan couldn’t express a position on racial bias because of a judges “canons of ethics” and wanted to see the data that Booker referenced, he said. Booker wasn’t having the BS.
“You haven’t [looked at studies on this?] You’re a judge in the United States of America and you have not looked at issues of race in sentencing and the criminal justice system?” Booker asked. “I find this astonishing.”
It’s important to note that Brennan was a trial judge on the Milwaukee County Circuit Court for nine years. Working within the criminal justice system for several years would undoubtedly allow someone to play a role, or at least see, how courts have handled the numerous cases that allude to or summon questions about racial bias. It’s not a question of if bias exists, as many studies show data indicating its existence. The question is if and whenever Brennan and others in his circle will admit that it does exist. For real, can’t everyone just be honest?
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