In yesterday’s hearing on the IRS whistleblowers, Democrats attempted to shift attention from the two respected IRS agents in front of them and their damning evidence of political influence and special treatment in the Hunter Biden investigation. Members spoke primarily about Trump but also an array of other matters from systemic racism to police brutality. However, multiple Democratic members focused on their objections to the use of the phrase “two-tiered legal system,” which they insisted was appropriated from the struggle for racial equality in this country. It was a curious attack since the term has been used by Democrats and liberal commentators outside of that context for years.
Various members were irate at the use of the term during the full-day hearing.
Rep. Maxwell Frost, D-Fla. objected that “since January 6th, these Republicans and Trump have complained about a two-tier justice system, co-opting the language of the decades-long civil rights movement for Black lives and Black freedom.” He added
“There is a two-tier justice system, but it’s not about Democrats versus Republican. This language, two-tier justice system, has a real history. It has a real history of Emmitt Till. It has a real history with Breonna Taylor. It has a real history with George Floyd, the Central Park Five.
Black, brown and poor people versus everyone else, and I won’t accept when Republican politicians look to appropriate the language of the movement for Black lives and civil rights to fit a political agenda to defend Donald Trump.”
Rep. Summer Lee, D-Pa., also joined the condemnation and insisted that this term was appropriated from the struggle for racial equality and the fact that Black and brown people in America are “overcriminalized and over-incarcerated.”
“I’d like to address the way my Republican colleagues are attempting to co-opt the phrase ‘two-tier justice system’ to make it sound like Trump and his cronies are somehow the victims here when the reality is that the term two-tier 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.”
However, this is a common term for any legal system that allows for special or preferential treatment of any group.
Indeed, the term is used in cases and even federal rules to refer to the state and federal systems.
The Los Angeles Times objected to the “two-tiered system of justice” favoring Trump loyalists.
The New York Times has explored a “two-tiered system of justice” for celebrities.
John Stewart referred to the system as between privileged and non-privileged folks.
Indeed, polling is often on whether there is a two-tiered system of justice for the powerful or the privileged or the political class.
After the hearing, Rep. Goldman had an even more stark tiered argument. He told MSNBC that there is a two-tiered system of system with one tier occupied entirely by Hunter Biden:
“Based on my experience, I’m shocked that Hunter Biden was even charged with these crimes. If you look at the history of civil and criminal enforcement of tax issues, and just look at Roger Stone’s case. He —he effectively did the same thing as Hunter Biden, and he simply paid a fine. So the fact that he’s even taking a plea deal in my mind demonstrates a two-tiered system of justice against Hunter Biden, not at all in favor of Donald Trump or the Republicans.”
Hunter has his own tier in Goldman’s variant. In that alternative construction, Hunter is the victim and these respected whistleblowers (and at least one FBI agent) are upset that justice could not be more perverted against this class of one.
Of course, if the effort was to distract, the objections succeeded as shown by this column. We are discussing something other than the shocking disclosures made by these whistleblowers. Indeed, Rep. Lee insisted that the use of the term itself was a distraction . . . by Republicans:
“Republican efforts to use the term two-tier justice is to distract from those who are truly the victims of a disparate treatment in our criminal justice system, and whether we say it out loud or not, we all know who those people are.”
So the use of the term in discussing the Hunter Biden investigation was really an effort to distract the public from racial inequality. If that seems unlikely, it was no more implausible than ranking members Rep. Jamie Raskin (D., Md.) saying that what occurred in this case was entirely “normal.”