Racism, Incorporated: <i>Ramos v. Louisiana</i> and Jogging While Black

01 Jan 2021

There is more to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Ramos v.
Louisiana
than its holding requiring unanimous state jury verdicts via the
incorporation doctrine. The underlying debate among the Justices in Ramos
about the salience of race in the law is a window into the current cultural
moment. After identifying the racial debate underlying the Justices’ views in
Ramos, this Essay shows how the same pattern emerges in our social and
legal debates around vigilante policing of Black Americans, including a
close-up look at the recent killing of Ahmaud Arbery. Social psychology
teaches us that society stereotypes young Black males, which turns
supposedly race-neutral “law and order” policies into invitations to
disproportionately police Blacks for everyday activities like jogging.
This Essay then looks to research on the righteous moral mind for a way
forward, noting that we may each see the world differently, sometimes in
ways unfathomable to the other. The challenge for our law and culture is to
find ways to incorporate and embrace those differences while recognizing
that our Constitution’s highest ideals demand that we move, even if in fits
and starts, toward a more inclusive, perfect union.