SpEd 617 Prof. J. Sherer
Five Social Issues: Equal Justice
The continued fight for Equal Justice, is the over arching theme comprising of many social issues that I shall attempt to scratch the surface of in five issues for the purpose of this paper. Issues examined will range from race, class privilege, social mobility, and the fundamental inequalities in the American legal system and police behavior. Our system does not simply fail to live up to the potential of equality, but actively demands double standards to function. These inequalities allow the privileged to experience constitutional protections from police power without paying the costs related with covering those protections across the board to minorities and the poor. It is imperative for our students to understand the laws that protect their basic rights as citizens, or it can be misused and in some cases taken away.
"Equal justice" means a justice administered in the same way based on the earlier settled law in the Country, or what is called the precedent prevailing. Therefore, no Citizen can be discriminated in the same set of circumstances. Our Constitution provides "equality clause" under Article 14 of the Constitution. It says, there shall be equality of opportunity to every Citizen. No citizen of the Country, similarly placed, should be discriminated, provided they are similarly circumstanced.
The issue of social mobility is both overwhelming and perverse, and is not “equal justice”. Overwhelming, because we cannot ignore the fact that our unfair education system, through which a person’s family wealth has a far more important impact on life chances than ability, is not fair or based on merit and almost guarantees that structures of power remain fixed. Perverse, because in order to significantly increase social mobility, educational opportunities for less prosperous children must be significantly increased, which will lead to a decrease in access to the best universities and careers.
Schools are supposed to be America’s instrument of social mobility, but they are clearly failing in that job. “The United States ranks twenty-first of twenty-six Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries in high school graduation rates. In New York City, 72 percent of African-American boys fail to graduate. Of those students who make it to college—rich, poor, black and white—40 percent need remedial classes.” Teachers, administrators, parents, and state and federal policies have all been blamed for these dismal results. Is this “equal justice”?
One of the most controversial police procedures is the “stop and frisk ”, this type of search happens when police confront a “suspicious person” in an effort to prevent a crime from taking place. People are being stopped based off racial profiling, while statistics proves that majority of the time, they are innocent. “Stop and Frisk” has been abandoned because it is unconstitutional and individuals are stopped based off appearance and not on evidence that proves they’re guilty. Under the U.S constitution, the 4th amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures such as “Stop and Frisk”. The “Stop and Frisk” law allows police officers to stop someone if they have reasonable evidence, but tribunes are abusing that power by stopping individuals based off seeing furtive movements and not on actual evidence, which is unconstitutional. Recently a historic agreement came to pass in the Floyd vs. City of New York case, taking steps to end the years-long legal battle that found the overuse of stop-and-frisk unconstitutional. This is key to show the differences in city, state and federal law based on court cases and how many cases have to go all the way to the Supreme Court.
In Gideon v. Wainwright, the Supreme Court recognized the constitutional right to an attorney for criminal defendants who could not afford one. But that was 50 years ago. Our criminal justice system has