When the US Supreme Court announced its decision in the Harvard University case in June, the new member of the court, Kentanji Brown Jackson, did not have an opinion.
That’s because Jackson recused himself from the case — a decision that still stirs controversy because other judges have not taken similar steps, despite their own conflicts of interest.
“Maybe Justice Jackson can bring a unique perspective to the discussion of the issues,” said Michael Williams of the Coalition for a Diverse Harvard. a student body that includes students with different backgrounds and experiences.”
Williams said the union’s students, faculty and staff are concerned about the court’s decision to overturn the consent decree in the case, which will join more than 100 Harvard students in Washington, DC, on the steps of the Supreme Court building. in today’s debates.
Jackson is a graduate of Harvard and Harvard Law and served as a six-year member of Harvard’s Board of Overseers until last spring. His daughter, Leila, is currently a freshman at Harvard. Although he agreed to recuse himself from the Harvard case in his Senate confirmation hearing last spring at the request of Sen. Ted Cruz (a graduate of Harvard Law School) was criticized by legal experts for losing her voice as the first Black woman in the country. will be punished by the superior court to the justice of the people.
Harvard’s pedigree in the nation’s highest court is unusual, and is not grounds for dismissal. Chief Justice John Roberts, another Harvard and Harvard Law graduate, has not recused himself from the Harvard case, nor has Justice Elena Kagan, the former dean of Harvard Law School.
Boston University law professor Jonathan Feingold said he thinks Jackson did that because he was doing everything he could to maintain the integrity of what he was doing inside in court.
Feingold compared Jackson’s decision to Justice Clarence Thomas’ refusal to recuse himself in anti-Semitism cases after the fall of former president Donald Trump despite his wife’s involvement in supporting violence.
“Certainly there is a context in which the nature of conflict arises,” Feingold said. “There is a fair argument in both cases where there is a motivation that shows a bias toward one of the jurors.”
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley said Jackson’s dismissal was justified because his position on the university’s board directly overlapped with Harvard’s admissions process. under supervision. Harvard’s Board of Examiners has no “definitive say” about the college’s admissions process, but is “supposed to advise the university on admissions policies,” he said.
“To me, it was very clear and appropriate to dismiss the Harvard case,” he said.
Turley said Thomas’ wife, Ginni Thomas, is a well-known activist in Washington, DC, and as the judge’s spouse, she is allowed to remain professional and have a separate identity from her husband. His role in the case came into question when his emails were released to attorney John Eastman. Eastman played a key role in efforts to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to block the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory.
“The views he expressed in these emails and communications were consistent with what he said publicly,” Turley said. “No one disagrees with these ideas. But the idea that a judge should recuse himself because of that context, I’m not sure.”
Feingold and Turley agreed that Jackson’s repeal was unlikely to have much effect, considering the majority of the Supreme Court.
Williams said the vision would be lost for generations if the majority of the court voted in favor of the majority.
“One issue that came up in the comments after Justice Jackson’s nomination and at the end of the confirmation process was that his perspective as a former public defender was important to the Court. Supreme,” Williams said.
Last spring, Jackson’s dismissal was seen as a blow to Harvard because it left only two justices – Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor – able to control the university and send 6-3 majority to reject current policies. .
But Jackson’s thoughts are not well known.
The Supreme Court set aside a similar Harvard discrimination case filed against the University of North Carolina. Jackson could hear arguments and vote on the UNC case.