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The Therapy Sessions
Friday, October 01, 2004
 

The racial profiling non-issue


The Harvard Crimson Online:
In a freewheeling question-and-answer session following the justice?s prepared remarks, an African-American graduate student challenged Scalia to defend the constitutionality of racial profiling.

The Kennedy School student, Larry Harris Jr., said that his Fourth and 14th Amendment rights had been violated when he was pulled over in Cambridge for, as he put it, driving while black.

Scalia was less convinced.

"What the Fourth Amendment prohibits is 'unnecessary search and seizure,'" the justice said. "Is it racial profiling prohibited by the Fourth Amendment for the police to go looking for a white man with blue eyes? Do you want to stop little old ladies with tennis shoes??"

The eccentric justice launched into a parody of a police radio dispatch under a scenario in which profiling were prohibited. "The suspect is 5'10", we know what he looks like, but we can't tell you," Scalia quipped, drawing laughter from the audience.

Harris was less amused. He said afterwards that "the flippancy with which [Scalia] dealt with the question was insensitive. It shows that on issues like this, he might be a little out of touch.?"

He's out of touch?


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