CRT and the Law in the US

CRT has performed and continues to perform a useful reformist intervention in the US legal system. As Crenshaw et al. (1995a, p. xxviii), explain, CRT tells us that the courts’ claims to ‘color-blindness’ is in reality ‘the product of a deeply politicized choice’ rather than ‘an ineluctable legal logic’: ‘[t] he appeal to color-blindness can ... be said to serve as part of an ideological strategy by which the current Court obscures its active role in sustaining hierarchies of racial power’ (Ibid.). Crenshaw et al. (ibid.) conclude that CRT ‘offers a valuable conceptual compass for mapping the doctrinal mystifications which the current Court has developed to camouflage its conservative agenda’. As an example, Delgado and Stefancic (2001, pp. 114-115) recount how one federal judge, versed in Critical Race Theory, and required under a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ type law to give out a longer sentence to a black motorist, declined to do so on the grounds that black motorists tend to be pulled over more frequently than whites as a result of racial profiling, and that the defendant’s two prior convictions had likely been tainted by racism.

Marxists would be totally supportive here. Indeed, Marxists support all reforms and ameliorations of injustice within capitalism, but with a longer term commitment to its overthrow and replacement with democratic socialism (see chapter 8 of this volume for a discussion).

In this chapter, I have discussed some of the strengths of CRT. However, I have also argued that these strengths need supplementing with Marxist analysis, in order for them to be contextualized. In the next chapter, I will discuss multicultural education and the antiracist response (based on Marxism) first in the US, then in the UK.

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