GOP Senate On Track to Confirm Judge Who Believes Property Rights are "Racist"

This column by ACRU Policy Board member Hans von Spakovsky was published January 18, 2016 by Conservative Review.

The Senate is poised on Tuesday to confirm a Minnesota state judge, Wilhemina Marie Wright, to the federal district court of Minnesota. In law school, Judge Wright was apparently an adherent of the discredited “critical race theory.” She once wrote that the racism that exists in America is “based on two principles: the sanctity of property and the belief in the hierarchy of races.”

As a third-year law student at Harvard, Judge Wright participated in a series of articles in the UCLA Law Review called “Racial Reflections: Dialogues in the Direction of Liberation” headlined by the notorious Derrick Bell, the Harvard law professor who was the father of “critical race theory.” Bell made it clear throughout his career that he detested America and all of its institutions. His critical race theory, as explained by John Perrazo, maintains that:

America is permanently racist to its core, and that consequently its legal structures are, by definition, racist and invalid. A logical derivative of this premise, according to Critical Race Theory, is that the members of “oppressed” racial groups are entitled — in fact obligated — to determine for themselves which laws and traditions have merit and are worth observing. Such a perspective’s implications for the ability of civil society to function at all, are nothing short of monumental.

If this idea that America is an inherently racist nation and that all whites are overt or subconscious racists sounds familiar, it should be. President Barack Obama is a great admirer of Bell and his racist legal theory, as is seen here in this 1991 video where Obama is hugging and introducing Bell. This theory has been espoused throughout the Obama administration including by officials within the Justice Department like former Attorney General Eric Holder.

Evidentally, Judge Wright was a fellow traveler with Bell, writing a short essay as part of his “Dialogues” on racial liberation. In a two-page fulmination on “Examining the Property of Rights in Whiteness,” Wright expresses her view about the sanctity of property being an inherent part of the racist hierarchy that exists in America.

There are so many logical fallacies in this entire line of reasoning that it hard to list them all.

She makes it clear that she believes these racist attitudes, especially our belief in property rights, is the reason behind “opposition to affirmative action” or racial preferences. In other words, she refuses to accept that anyone who is against racial preferences in employment, college admissions, or public contracting could hold that position because they believe discrimination of any kind is wrong. No, according to Wright, the “primary motivation” for such opposition is still “the belief that the lives and liberty of members of the Black race were worth less that the property of the white race.”

Wright accepts that “Modern America has publicly rejected the notion that it is okay to advocate racial supremacy.” But what is “equally damaging” according to Wright, is the belief that “property is worth more than life or liberty.” She resents the fact that because “whites own the vast majority of what Americans define as property,” property ownership “appears nonracist.”

There are so many logical fallacies in this entire line of reasoning that it hard to list them all. Most importantly, she has absolutely no basis for her claim that Americans — or our constitutional and legal structure — value property more highly than “life or liberty.” In fact, our history shows that Americans have an almost unique belief in the vital importance of life and liberty. We certainly value property rights, but to claim we value property over our liberty is simply wrong. The most fundamental belief she expresses — that property rights are inherently racist — is the type of bizarre and preposterous claim that is characteristic of the nonsensical critical race theory advanced by Bell.

Wright concludes her essay by arguing that the “failure of today’s racial discourse is its reliance on the notion that property is neutral, that the deed to a suburban home is ‘property’ while the opportunity to move out of a slum is not.” I have no idea what this is supposed to mean, other than it is an outright rejection of the fundamental principle of property rights that hundreds of years of our (and British) history have shown is fundamental to maintaining a free society. Wright criticizes the fact that such property rights “are firmly protected by the words and action of the Constitution.”

When questioned about this at her confirmation hearing, Wright claimed her writing was “inartful” and made without “all of the training and experience that” she has now. Wright may have more experience now and be more artful, but that student essay seems to reveal her fundamental views on the Constitution, property rights, and the idea that America, to quote Derrick Bell, is “a white society that condemns all blacks to quasi citizenship as surely as it segregated our parents.” Her view that those who are against racial preferences are racists themselves is in accord with Bell’s claim that racism is “an integral, permanent, and indestructible component of this society;” something that is the exact opposite of the truth in our open, pluralistic society.

Yet despite these racialist views, Wright won the Senate Judiciary Committee’s approval on a voice vote with no dissent. And in December, Wright’s nomination moved to the floor with unanimous consent — not a single Republican senator voiced an objection. She is apparently considered “a rising judicial star” and would be on the short list for a Democratic president’s Supreme Court picks.

The question now is whether senators who are charged with a duty to uphold the Constitution and to preserve the principles inherent in guaranteeing the ability of all Americans to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, will confirm someone who seems to fundamentally disagree with that view.