Judge Jackson's Supreme Court confirmation adds diversity, ends idea of 'Black seat'

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WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court was a few minutes into oral arguments in a 2002 case about whether the First Amendment protects cross burnings when Associate Justice Clarence Thomas jumped in – and snapped the courtroom’s attention his way.

Suddenly the high court’s only Black justice, a son of the Jim Crow South, was questioning whether the all-white panel of lawyers arguing the case to an otherwise all-white bench of jurists was “understating” the symbolism of a burning cross after nearly a century of lynchings and violence perpetrated by the Ku Klux Klan and others. 

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