Justice Sotomayor chastises Texas prosecutor for ‘racial prejudice’

Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Photo Credit: CNN

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor took the unusual step of adding a personal statement to the Court’s denial to hear a case on appeal Monday.

The appeal was denied for procedural issues, but Sotomayor, joined by Justice Stephen Breyer, called out a federal prosecutor from Texas for his “racially charged” remarks to African-American defendant Bongani Calhoun during cross examination in the trial.

According to CNN, Calhoun was convicted and is serving 15 years in prison for his role in a federal drug conspiracy case.

“The issue,” CNN reported, “was whether [Calhoun] was a willing participant, or just happened to be present when others attempted to purchase narcotics from undercover federal agents.”

Calhoun claimed he had no idea he was involved in a drug deal, prompting the prosecutor to ask him:

You’ve got African-Americans, you’ve got Hispanics, you’ve got a bag full of money. Does that tell you—a light bulb doesn’t go off in your head and say, “This is a drug deal?”

“By suggesting that race should play a role in establishing a defendant’s criminal intent,” Sotomayor wrote, “the prosecutor here tapped a deep and sorry vein of racial prejudice that has run through the history of criminal justice in our Nation.”

Sotomayor continued,

It is deeply disappointing to see a representative of the United States resort to this base tactic more than a decade into the 21st century. Such conduct diminishes the dignity of our criminal justice system and undermines respect for the rule of law. We expect the Government to seek justice, not to fan the flames of fear and prejudice.

“The justices in rejecting Calhoun’s appeal apparently accepted the lower appeals court’s conclusion that the inmate never established that the insensitive comments necessarily prejudiced the outcome of the criminal trial,” CNN explained.

Though Sotomayor agreed with the decision to deny Calhoun’s petition, she explained why she was compelled to write a personal statement. She said,

I write to dispel any doubt whether the Court’s denial of certiorari should be understood to signal our tolerance of a federal prosecutor’s racially charged remark. It should not.

I hope never to see a case like this again.

Read more from CNN here.

Read Justice Sotomayor’s written opinion here.




Janeen Capizola

"And though she be but little, she is fierce." And fun! This conservative-minded political junkie, mom of three, dancer and one-time NFL cheerleader holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science. [email protected] Twitter: @JaneenBPR


6 thoughts on “Justice Sotomayor chastises Texas prosecutor for ‘racial prejudice’

  1. taylor says:

    tuff bunnies

  2. mike says:

    Just another stupid judge, they have no problem when it the white man that is discriminated on, but boy dont you dare dis a black man or any other for that matter. If she was so concerned about stupid things that people say, she would lock joe biden up for the rest of his life. I myself believe that she is a raciest woman, she has a chip in her shoulder that will never go away. And why is my question. she has had everthing given to her that she ever wanted.

  3. David D. says:

    Um, Justice Sotomayer, FYI, It is "deeply disappointing" for the citizenry to see an Atty General of the US supply guns to Mexican Cartels in an attempt to further an agenda; it is also "deeply disappointing" to hear of a president and his department heads watching the murder of our people in Benghazi, only to do nothing about it, and it is EXTREMELY disappointing that the SCOTUS won't allow evidence of the president's lack of qualification to serve be heard, much less his trashing of the U.S. Constitution. The list of grievances against the administration is too long for this space, but you, Ms. Sotomeyer are worried about a very probable drug dealer not getting a fair shake?! Priorities please.

  4. KB Cook says:

    Justice Sotomayer is deeply disappointing to so many of us in her misrepresentation of the Constitutions and in her many attempts to legislate from the bench. I suppose we will all have to just get over our disappointments, right?

  5. She is doing the same thing she acussing the lawyer of doing ,using her position to express her personal feeling about a case. That is not her job. Just like a Puertorican woman , she has to have the last world". Jose

  6. "…Such conduct diminishes the dignity of our criminal justice system and undermines respect for the rule of law.." Justice Sotomayer, why are you not "…deeply disappointed…" in the criminal acts by Eric Holder, or by the disregard your president has for the constitution, or for the fact the your president was MIA during Benghazi, and on and on and on…….rather hypocritical to say the least…..

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