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Black defendants worry about harsher sentences from Trump’s appointed judges

Newsom and Brennan

Black defendants worry about harsher sentences from Trump’s appointed judges

By Kathrina Tiangco 

It’s very evident that living under the Trump administration poses a challenge for Black defendants. There is a trend among judges that are nominated by Republican presidents that result in longer and harsher sentences. Based on a study from Harvard, there is a huge gap between Democrat and Republican-appointed judges and how they impose sentences on Black offenders.

Even though it still appears too early to say how the judges appointed by President Donald Trump will impact the sentencing gap. However, based on his appointees’ records, some are known for being a racist while others have extreme views when it comes to retribution. According to activists, the results of Harvard’s study only adds to their long list of concerns about how Black people are treated in the Trump administration.

Todd Cox who is an acting director at NAACP’s Legal Defense group is saying that Trump’s nominees are already showing opposition to equal rights in the court. Michael Brennan who was recently appointed by Republicans can’t confirm if racial bias is still existent in the U.S. criminal justice system.

Democrats were shocked when Brennan, who has been a trial judge for almost a decade, refused to answer the question if racial bias still exists in court. Meanwhile, other Republican-appointed judges are clearly choosing tougher measures on criminal justice. U.S. Court of Appeals’ Judge Stephanos Bibas, once pushed for electric shocks as corporal punishment while Judge Kevin Newsom argued that executing minors is not in violation of the constitution.

The way the Alliance for Justice’s president, Nan Aron, sees it, Trump is appointing judges with the clear intent of imposing harsher sentences on criminal defendants. She also pointed out that Trump has never chosen any defense lawyer or public defender to be a judge. These people are qualified and have a better grasp of the criminal justice system. Instead, he is choosing people who have ties to conservative groups, she adds.

Trump has, in fact, confirmed 21 circuit court judges, 18 district judges, and one Supreme Court justice which is the most a president has ever appointed. According to law professor at the University of Richmond, Carl Tobias, it’s hard to judge how Trump’s appointees will fare in terms of manifesting racial inequality in the court. He emphasizes how Trump has been focusing on recruiting conservative circuit court judges while his district court judges are not as extreme.

Nonetheless, a lot of people especially African Americans are still worried about the sentencing gaps. At the same time, at least one-third of his appointees are also known for being anti-LGBTQ.

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