The Evolution Of Inequality In The US

The Evolution Of Inequality In The U.S. Legal System Essay, Research Paper

In the United States, true equality has ne’er existed. From the Declaration of Independence to modern times, the U.S. legal system has failed in any effort at equality. The political orientation of & # 8220 ; all [ work forces ] are equal but some [ work forces ] are more equal than others & # 8221 ; has been present throughout the history of the U.S. ( Orwell ) . Inequality has ever existed in the United States legal system and continues to be today ; nevertheless, the inequality soon in the system is non every bit blazing as what it one time was, but the system has come to depend on inequality.Since the really beginning of a legal system in the United States, there has been inequality. The Declaration of Independence declared that & # 8220 ; ? all work forces are created equal, that they are endowed by their Godhead with certain inalienable Rights? & # 8221 ; ( Jefferson ) . The world of the Declaration of Independence was that all free, white, landowning work forces are created equal. Slavery continued in the U.S. for about ninety old ages after the Declaration, and black Americans still experience the sting of inequality. Womans were besides left out of & # 8220 ; ? all work forces are created equal? . & # 8221 ; The implied significance of the gap lines of the Declaration of Independence is what the U.S. legal system has strived for and failed to hold on fully.After the constitution of independency in the United States, the development of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights ensued. The Bill of Rights was to set up the basic rights of every citizen of the United States, but failed to make so. The rights of white, male citizens were the lone rights that were ensured by the Bill of Rights. The rights of inkinesss and the underprivileged were non even considered. The Fifth Amendment provinces, & # 8220 ; No individual shall be held to reply for a capital, or otherwise ill-famed offense, unless on a notification or indictment of a expansive jury? , nor be deprived of life, autonomy, or belongings, without due procedure of jurisprudence ; nor shall private belongings be taken for public usage, without merely compensation & # 8221 ; ( & # 8221 ; Constitution & # 8221 ; , Amendment V ) . These rights were frequently denied to those that were 2nd category citizens or those people that were non even considered to be people, such as slaves. The rights ensured by the first 10 amendments have been denied to some portion of the population at any given clip in American history. The denying of the basic rights established by the Bill of Rights is non limited to the any one amendment. Even today there are instances that cite the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, and the Fifth Amendment, as a footing for defence. The First Amendment right to freedom of address is likely the most challenged in today? s society. With the & # 8220 ; Information Age & # 8221 ; upon us, the right to liberate address has been seeking out its bounds and future potency. Because of the extent of free address and peoples usage of it to talk out against the authorities, there is inequality presently in the system. Peoples who use their voices against the system are frequently caused a great trade of legal problems while those that use their voices to back up the system are free to make so at will. To return to America? s early history of inequality, one must look at the black codifications. The black codifications are defined as & # 8220 ; Torahs [ that ] were designed to replace the societal controls of that had been removed by the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution [ ( 1865 ) ] , and were therefore intended to guarantee continuation of white domination & # 8221 ; ( & # 8221 ; black codifications & # 8221 ; ) . The Grandfather Clause and Jim Crow Laws were all portion of the black codifications of the South. & # 8220 ; [ The Grandfather Clause ] ? provided that those who had enjoyed the right to vote prior to 1866 or 1867, or their direct posterities, would be exempt from educational, belongings, or revenue enhancement demands for voting? [ T ] hese clauses worked efficaciously to except inkinesss from the ballot but assured the franchise to many destitute and illiterate Whites & # 8221 ; ( & # 8221 ; Grandfather Clause & # 8221 ; ) . Jim Crow Laws were & # 8220 ; any of the Torahs that enforced racial segregation in the U.S. South between the terminal ( 1877 ) of the formal Reconstruction period and the beginning of a strong civil-rights motion ( 1950s ) & # 8221 ; ( & # 8221 ; Jim Crow Laws & # 8221 ; ) . Therefore, Jim Crow Laws were a big portion of black codes.Jim Crow Laws included the legislative act set by Plessy v. Ferguson, in 1896, of & # 8220 ; separate, but equal & # 8221 ; ( USSC, & # 8220 ; Plessy & # 8221 ; ) . With the subject of Plessy v. Ferguson being brought into the state of affairs, one must look at segregation in America as a agency of the system reaffirming inequality. & # 8220 ; In the Southern provinces of the United States? legal segregation in public installations was current from the late nineteenth century into the 1950s & # 8221 ; ( & # 8221 ; racial segregation & # 8221 ; ) . Legal segregation in America established the fact that there was built-in inequality in the system. Because of this, & # 8220 ; the Civil Rights Movement was initiated by Southern inkinesss in the 1950s and & # 8217 ; 60s to interrupt the prevalent form of racial segregation & # 8221 ; ( & # 8221 ; racial segregation & # 8221 ; ) . As a consequence of this motion, Plessy v. Ferguson was overturned in the 1955 opinion of Brown v. Board of Education ( USSC, & # 8220 ; Brown & # 8221 ; ) . This did non set an terminal to legal segregation, but it laid a foundation for the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Civil Rights Act was & # 8220 ; comprehensive U.S. statute law intended to stop favoritism based on race, coloring material, faith, or national beginning & # 8221 ; ( & # 8221 ; Civil Rights Act & # 8221 ; ) . Though the purpose of the Civil Rights Act was good, it was non every bit effectual as it should hold been. It failed to stop inequality in the system.Inequality has evolved to suit the freshly reformed system. Not merely racial inequality adapted to the system, but besides inequality towards the indigent and towards adult females. After all, inequality is non limited to instances of race. Womans have been 2nd category citizens since the foundation of America. It wasn? T until the 19th Amendment passed in 1920 that adult females gained the right to vote ( & # 8221 ; Constitution & # 8221 ; , Amendment XIX ) . This was 15 old ages after the 15th Amendment provided that the right to vote would non be denied on the footing of race or coloring material ( Amendment XV ) . Yet, it wasn? T until the 24th Amendment in 1964 that canvass revenue enhancements where prohibited and voting became more accessible to the indigent ( Amendment XXIV ) . Even though these stairss were taken to extinguish inequalit

y in most forms, inequality still occurs in the system.The modern legal system in the U.S. has come to not only accept and hide inequality, but also to depend on inequality to function. Perhaps David Cole said it best, “Absent race and class disparities, the privileged among us could not enjoy as much constitutional protection of our liberties as we do?” (5). The case of Gideon v. Wainwright can be used to illustrate this point. Cole summarizes the case:Clarence Earl Gideon, a penniless Florida man, down on his luck and charged with breaking and entering a poolroom, claims that although he can?t afford a layer, he has a constitutional right to have a lawyer appointed by the state to defend him. When the Florida trial court denies his request, [Gideon] represents himself, and is convicted. From prison, [Gideon] sends a hand-written note to the Supreme Court asking it to hear his case. ?Abe Fortas [is appointed] to argue Gideon?s case, and then [the Court] rules that the Sixth Amendment guarantees indigent defendants the assistance of a lawyer in all serious criminal trials. On retrial, with a lawyer paid for by the states, Gideon is acquitted. (63)The Gideon v. Wainwright may not appear to support the previous statement: “Absent race and class disparities, the privileged among us could not enjoy as much constitutional protection of our liberties as we do?” (Cole 5). The outcome of Gideon requires government to provide a lawyer to a defendant, “[b]ut as long as the state provides a warm body with a law degree and a bar admission, little else matters” (64). Even though the state provides indigent defense counsel, most are “underpaid, overworked, and given insufficient resources to conduct an adequate investigation and defense” (84). Cole states that in 1990, “[t]he national average per capita spending on local and state indigent defense was $5.37? (84). Cole also points out other facts about the ruling in Gideon v. Wainwright:One of the most remarkable facts about the constitutional right declared in Gideon v. Wainwright is that it was not a constitutional right for the first 184 years of our Constitution. The Sixth Amendment guarantees that ?In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right?to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.? But for most of our history, this right applied only to the approximately 10 percent of criminal trials that take place in federal court, and even there is meant only that defendants who had the money to do so could hire and attorney to defend them. (65)What this establishes is the inequalities of defense in the legal system. Those defendants that cannot provide their own council are at a disadvantage since the council they are appointed is often inadequate. The legal system has come to rely on the disparities of defendants as means of producing convictions, and thus as a reason for perpetuating inequality in the system.The inequalities of the justice system can also be shown in the evolution of laws in more resent times. When laws begin to affect large numbers of white middle- and upper-class people, the laws begin to change. An example would involve the spread of marijuana use. Strict laws of the early and middle part of this century prohibiting the use of marijuana were imposed because the majority of users were lower-class minorities. But during the 1960s and 1970s, the use of marijuana spread though the youth of white middle- and upper-class America (Cole 152). This spurred changes in the judicial system to ease the laws affecting marijuana use. Cole summarizes the situation: “When the effects of a criminal law reach the sons and daughters of the white majority, our response is not to get tough, but rather to get lenient” (153).The American legal system has never been truly equal because it was founded on inequality and has always depended on inequality. The system could easily be changed to eliminate those inequalities, but that will not likely happen. “Challenges to measures that disadvantage blacks, other minorities, or women face an inordinate burden to prove purposeful action, and the tendency to ignore the appearance of discrimination or stereotyping?; and moral skepticism that doubts that white men discriminate anymore and questions the credibility and motives of challengers who claim otherwise” have lead to support of inequality (Kairys, par. 22).So long as there is a majority dependent on the disparities of a minority, the system will maintain its current sanctity. In doing so, the system will remain dependent on inequality and provide means for future inequalities. The American legal system will always adapt to allow for inequalities.Works Cited”Black codes”. Encyclopedia Britannica 1997-98. CD-ROM. Britannica. 1998.”Civil Rights Act” Encyclopedia Britannica 1997-98. CD-ROM. Britannica. 1998.Cole, David. No Equal Justice: Race and Class in the American Criminal Justice System. New York: The New Press, 1999.”Constitution of the United States of America”. Encyclopedia Britannica 1997-98. CD-ROM. Britannica. 1998.”Equality”. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition. CD-ROM. Microsoft. 1997.”Grandfather clause”. Encyclopedia Britannica 1997-98. CD-ROM. Britannica. 1998.Jefferson, Thomas. “Declaration of Independence”. Encyclopedia Britannica 1997-98. CD-ROM. Britannica. 1998.”Jim Crow Laws”. Encyclopedia Britannica 1997-98. CD-ROM. Britannica. 1998.Kairys, David. “Unexplained on Grounds Other Than Race”. American University Law Review. Volume 45, Book 3. 12 Dec. 1999., George. Animal Farm in The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations. CD-ROM. Microsoft. 1997.”Racial segregation” Encyclopedia Britannica 1997-98. CD-ROM. Britannica. 1998.United States Supreme Court. “Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896).” Selected Historic Decisions of the US Supreme Court. Legal Information Institute, 1999. 12 Dec. 1999. United States Supreme Court. “Brown v. Board of Education, 349 U.S. 294 (1955).” Selected Historic Decisions of the US Supreme Court. Legal Information Institute, 1999. 12 Dec. 1999.

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