Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

Obama Supreme Court Candidate Deval Patrick—Part 1


Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick is another highly touted contender for a Supreme Court appointment by a President Obama.  As the Boston Globe reported two months ago in an article entitled “Speculation swirls around a Patrick appointment”:


Legal blogs have been spreading Patrick’s name as a potential Supreme Court pick for at least a year. In recent months, both The New York Times and The Washington Post have mentioned Patrick either first or second in stories handicapping potential Obama high-court nominees.


Deval Patrick has made his mark on the law in the field of racial preferences.  Let’s take a look at his remarkable record:


1.  As assistant attorney general for civil rights in the Clinton administration, Patrick—in the words of Jeffrey Rosen in a 1994 New Republic article—“committed the Clinton administration to a vision of racial preference that fulfills the most extravagant fantasies of a conservative attack ad.”  Specifically, Patrick argued in a brief in Taxman v. Piscataway that “it is legal to fire a white teacher over a black teacher purely because of her race.”  As Rosen explains, Patrick’s position that “affirmative action” principles permit “firing someone on account of race crosses a crucial line” that had been “widely accepted by liberals and conservatives.”  Patrick “blithely endorsed the most extreme form of racialism” and did so “with a series of evasions”.


2.  More generally, Patrick as AAG aggressively pursued and defended racial preferences and racial line-drawing across the board—in employment, government contracting, and gerrymandering—even in the face of contrary Supreme Court rulings.  Patrick was notorious for his tactics of intimidation and abuse.  Even liberal senator Carol Moseley Braun (whose seat Barack Obama occupies) decried Patrick’s “Gestapo techniques” that “run roughshod over citizens, over communities.”  (Washington Times, Oct. 1, 1996.)  When the city of Torrance, California stood up to Patrick’s charge—based entirely on statistical disparity from what quota-based hiring would yield—that it had committed employment discrimination, a Carter-appointed judge found Patrick’s case “frivolous, unreasonable, and without foundation” and awarded Torrance two million dollars in attorney’s fees.  Similar examples abound.


3.  In January 2007, when the Supreme Court was considering two cases that presented the question whether government may classify children by race and ethnicity and assign them to various schools in order to maintain a fixed racial balance in those schools, Governor Patrick raged demagogic:


The United States Supreme Court is on the brink of rationalizing justice right out of the law.…  I wonder how many of us know that in this term, right now, the Supreme Court is seriously considering overruling the Brown v. Board of Education decision.


His patently false second sentence, in particular, marks him as a shameless racebaiter.


4.  Like many other Democratic racialists (including Obama), Patrick also helped cause the ongoing mortgage crisis by establishing bad policies that he then personally profited from.  As one commentator wrote nearly a year ago: 

While at the Justice Department, former Clinton Administration official Deval Patrick, who is now governor of Massachusetts, used the pressure of federal lawsuits to force lenders to make risky loans, threatening them with redlining charges.… Then he left the Justice Department to make more money by receiving money from lenders eager to curry favor with him and thus avoid the wrath of his friends still at the Justice Department. Lenders hired him for a small fortune to “counsel” them about “predatory lending.” “Once outside government, Patrick made a bundle providing ‘cover’ for one lender as it navigated the landscape of sub-prime lending in minority communities.”

Tags: Whelan


Subscribe to National Review