Summer Lee Blasts Dishonest Use of “Two-Tiered Justice System” During Oversight Hearing on Republican’s Obsession with Hunter Biden to Distract from their Failure to Conduct Real Oversight on Behalf of American People

Jul 19, 2023
Press

**For Immediate Release**

Emilia.Rowland@Mail.house.gov | 330.212.2065

Summer Lee Blasts Dishonest Use of “Two-Tiered Justice System” During Oversight Hearing on Republican’s Obsession with Hunter Biden to Distract from their Failure to Conduct Real Oversight on Behalf of American People

“Republican efforts to use the term two-tiered justice are to distract from those who are truly the victims of a disparate treatment and our criminal justice system. And whether we say it out loud or not, we all know who those people are.”

Link to the Full Remarks

Link to Full Hearing Video

Link to the Full Video

Transcript of remarks: 

Republicans have been invoking this term “two-tiered system of justice” a lot recently. So I want to talk about what the real two tier justice system is where Black and brown people are over criminalized and over incarcerated. 

On June, 20, Chairman Comer claimed in a committee press release, “The Department of Justice’s charges against President Biden’s son Hunter reveal a two tier system of justice” – President Trump has also used this phrase in connection to the Hunter Biden Investigation as you can see from his knock off social media site.

I’d like to address the way my Republican colleagues are attempting to co op the phrase to tear justice system to make it sound like Trump and his cronies are somehow the victims here when the reality is that the term two tiered system of justice is meant to refer to the very real system that exists in the United States, and which affects black and brown folks, not powerful former presidents and their political allies. 

The real two tiered system of justice is one in which in 2021, according to the DOJ is Bureau of Justice Statistics, the imprisonment rate for black men aged 18 and 19 was 11.6 times the rate for white males. 

The real two tiered justice system is one in which and 2021 According to those same statistics the imprisonment rate for Native American males aged 18 and 19 was 5.1 times the rate for white males. 

The two tier justice system is one in which according to a May 2018, viewer evidence brief and I quote, black men comprise about 13% of the male population, but about 35% of those incarcerated, one in three black men born today can expect to be incarcerated in his lifetime, compared to one in six Latino men, and one in 17 white men the two tiered justice system is one in which an analysis of nearly 100 million traffic stops across this country found that black drivers are about 20% more likely to be stopped than white drivers. 

My Republican colleagues seem to think that using criminal law as a weapon or a political tool is objectionable only when directed against someone who should be out of reach of the criminal system, someone too rich, too powerful or too white to be charged. Well, let’s face it. That same system has been used as a weapon and a political tool against black people since the Emancipation Proclamation. 

These racial disparities are rooted in a two tiered view on race. The belief that black people were inferior that was created to justify the insane enslavement of Black people, which has now evolved into to include the belief that black people are more prone to criminality. 

During the decades of lynchings that followed enslavement, white people, defended the torture and murder of black people as necessary to protect property, families in a way of life from black criminals. 

And 1980s Nixon’s war on crime evolved into Reagan’s war on drugs and we saw harsher and more frequent punishments and the start of mass incarceration. In both cases, it was black people who were targeted and suffered under those policies. 

There’s a reason that crack cocaine, which carries a stereotype of being used by black people was at one point punished far more harshly than powder cocaine. Prior to 2010. That ratio was 100 to one, meaning someone convicted in a federal court of possessing crack cocaine will receive the same sentence as someone who possessed 100 times more powder cocaine. 

And I want to say that past extreme sentencing practices have overwhelmingly impacted people of color. More specifically, Black people who make up less than 11% of the population in Pennsylvania, but more than 65% of those serving life without parole sentences, and 58% of those serving non life sentences of 20 years or longer.

How many times have our elected officials and judges ran on a promise of a tough on crime approach? Even now, Republicans still tell that they are the party of law and order, while in the same breath claiming that Donald Trump should not be prosecuted. 

Don’t get it twisted. Republican efforts to use the term two-tiered justice are to distract from those who are truly the victims of a disparate treatment and our criminal justice system. And whether we say it out loud or not, we all know who those people are.

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