The Atlantic

The Supreme Court Is Avoiding Talking About Race

Saying nothing often is saying something.
Source: Shutterstock / The Atlantic

Supreme Court justices typically write opinions that say more than what is strictly necessary to decide the case before them. In those opinions, the justices also communicate with their colleagues, other courts, and the country about the issues, values, and people they deem especially important. When it comes to the possibility and history of racism, however, most of the current justices—with the important exception of Justice Sonia Sotomayor—tend to respond the way so many white people do: More often than not, they would rather just not talk about it.

That tendency was evident this past term in most of the cases potentially implicating the subject of race.

In, the Court held that a police officer could lawfully stop a vehicle about which the officer knew only that its owner had a revoked driver’s license. In 2016, an officer in Lawrence, Kansas, ran a license-plate check on a moving pickup truck and found that the license of the registered owner—Charles Glover—had been revoked. The officer stopped the truck, which Glover was driving, and Kansas charged him with driving as a habitual violator. In his defense, Glover argued that the stop violated the Fourth Amendment, which protects people against “unreasonable searches and seizures,” and the Kansas Supreme Court, arguing that the officer had not adequately justified

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