Ariz. Chief Justice Scott Bales

Ariz. Chief Justice Scott Bales

Great news this morning from the Arizona Supreme Court:

United States Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr., has appointed Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Scott Bales as a member of the Committee on Federal-State Jurisdiction of the Judicial Conference of the United States. This 14-member committee is comprised of U.S. circuit judges, district judges, a bankruptcy judge, a magistrate judge, and four state supreme court chief justices, all of whom are appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States.

The Committee considers issues related to the structure and jurisdiction of the federal courts and the allocation of jurisdiction between state and federal courts, and it makes recommendations to the Judicial Conference, the policy-making body for the federal judiciary. The Committee also serves as a conduit for communications on matters of mutual concern between the federal judiciary and state courts.”

Chief Justice John Roberts

Chief Justice John Roberts

“Class actions and mass torts, immigration reform, diversity jurisdiction, and habeas corpus procedures are a few of the cross-jurisdictional issues the Committee has considered,” said Chief Justice Bales. “I look forward to contributing to vigorous discussions about state and federal issues that arise in our courts. It is an honor to be appointed by our nation’s Chief Justice.”

Chief Justice Bales was appointed for a three-year term beginning October 1, 2015, through October 1, 2018.

More information about the Judicial Conference of the United States is here.


Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw

Last Thursday was the annual A. Wade Smith Lecture on Race Relations at Arizona State University. As I indicated before, it was delivered by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a professor of law at UCLA and Columbia University. The co-founder of the African American Policy Forum spoke before an appreciative audience in the Memorial Union.

Her lecture title and subject were “Educating All Our Children: A Constitutional Perspective.”

Crenshaw opened by describing how a Black man’s election as U.S. President means that we as a nation occupy an “important moment in the long struggle for equality in education.” But although that event cheered her, she had to conclude that as she assessed the body politic, “It’s ill.” She told the students and other audience members to “combat the idea that all is well.”

She also lent her considerable rhetorical powers to an attack on the notion that the United States now occupies a “post-racial sphere.” But she did admit that there was one recurring element of the post-racial ethos:

“Ignoring race: Now that’s post-racial. Race consciousness is out. It doesn’t matter if your goal is to segregate or to integrate,” the U.S. Supreme Court tells us. “They are both off the table.”

“How can we be ‘over race’?” she asked.

There was ample legal discussion for the lawyers in the room. She cited case after case that demonstrated the trend that educational equity arguments have moved over a generation. As she said, voicing a prevailing view, “All this talk about race and racism is counterproductive, and just makes people feel bad.”

Nat Hentoff

Finally, Crenshaw said, we have moved far past the urging of Justice Blackmun in Bakke that “You have to focus on race to get beyond race.” Instead, in a post-racial world, “Bankruptcy has been declared: The debt is wiped clean, and there is no social justice capital left to pay.”

Her position was most clear when she contrasted Chief Justice Roberts’ statement (“The way to stop discrimination based on race is to stop discrimination based on race”) with her analogy: The way to stop the problem of asbestos is to stop talking about asbestos, or seeking ways to mediate it.

Refuse the “narcotic of post-racialism,” she urged the audience.

“The language of gradualism has morphed into the language of arrival,” but those who most need help have not arrived.

Days after listening to Professor Crenshaw, I came across an article by Nat Hentoff in The Village Voice. In “Segregation 2010: Bloomberg’s Schools,” he examines where the New York City schools are in relation to Brown v. Board of Education, circa 1954. As you might guess by his title, he argues they’re not very advanced.

The picture he and Crenshaw paint is not a rosy one. It appears there is still much for lawyers to do in that realm.

Hentoff’s story is here.