Supreme Court

Vernon Madison and the Death Penalty

On April 18, 1985 Mobile County Police Officer Julian Schulte responded to a report of a missing child. Upon arriving at the home of Cheryl Ann Green, Schulte was informed that there had been a miscommunication — the child was not missing and was on her way home thanks to a family friend. While Schulte waited in his police car for a second unit to arrive at the home, an argument broke out between Ms. Green and her then-boyfriend Vernon Madison. Schulte intervened, requesting that Madison calm down and leave the residence. Madison left briefly, but returned shortly after with a gun and shot Officer Julian Schulte twice through the driver side window of his unmarked police vehicle. A week later, Corporal Julian Schulte — by all accounts a good officer and better person — was pronounced dead.

Two weeks ago on Thursday, May 12. Vernon Madison was supposed to die.

If someone were to make an argument against the death penalty, Vernon Madison may indeed be the poster child. Not because there’s ambiguity in the crime — he most certainly murdered Officer Julian Schulte — but because Madison’s story highlights so many of the flaws which come along with state-sanctioned executions.   (more…)

Does Affirmative Action Help?

Uttering the phrase affirmative action conjures up a torrent of emotion in people from all walks of life. Putting the emotion aside, I’ve always been more interested in knowing exactly if affirmative action works. Does it help kids and teenagers realize educational goals that otherwise would not have been achievable?

Some say it does not. One of the most vocal opponents of the policy, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has often stated that the stigma around being an affirmative action beneficiary is often greater than the opportunity the policy may present. In a 2003 supreme court case on the issue, Grutter v. Bollinger, Thomas — in dissent — wrote:

Who can differentiate between those who belong and those who do not? The majority of blacks are admitted to the Law School because of discrimination, and because of this policy all are tarred as undeserving. This problem of stigma does not depend on determinacy as to whether those stigmatized are actually the “beneficiaries” of racial discrimination. When blacks take positions in the highest places of government, industry, or academia, it is an open question today whether their skin color played a part in their advancement. The question itself is the stigma—because either racial discrimination did play a role, in which case the person may be deemed “otherwise unqualified,” or it did not, in which case asking the question itself unfairly marks those blacks who would succeed without discrimination.

The stigma, I believe, is very real. Not only in the minds of students who do not directly participate in affirmitive action, but also in the conscious of the female and minority students who must persistently push back the pang of uncertainty as to whether or not their spot was ‘deserved’.