WA Supreme Court addresses the ‘devaluation and degradation of black lives’


In a letter to the legal community issued on the day of George Floyd’s funeral, the Washington State Supreme Court issued a challenge to the entire legal community. “The legal community must recognize that we all bear responsibility for this on-going injustice, and that we are capable of taking steps to address it, if only we have the courage and the will.”

They laid out a horrific justice system landscape. “We continue to see racialized policing and the overrepresentation of black Americans in every stage of our criminal and juvenile justice systems. Our institutions remain affected by the vestiges of slavery: Jim Crow laws that were never dismantled and racist court decisions that were never disavowed.”

To judges

“We can develop a greater awareness of our own conscious and unconscious biases in order to
make just decisions in individual cases, and we can administer justice and support court rules in a way that brings greater racial justice to our system as a whole.”

To lawyers

“[W]enmust recognize the harms that are caused when meritorious claims go unaddressed due to systemic inequities or the lack of financial, personal,
or systemic support…The systemic oppression of black Americans is not merely incorrect and harmful; it is shameful and deadly.”

To individuals

“[Racial injustice against black Americans] is the collective product of each of our individual actions—every action, every day…We call on every member of our legal community to … ask ourselves how we may work together to eradicate racism.” And finally, “may we also remember to support our black
colleagues by lifting their voices. Listening to and acknowledging their experiences will enrich and inform our shared cause of dismantling systemic racism.”

Read the entire letter.