Is Referring to a “Two-Tiered Legal System” Racially Insensitive Outside of a Civil Rights Context?

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.”



42 thoughts on “Is Referring to a “Two-Tiered Legal System” Racially Insensitive Outside of a Civil Rights Context?”

  1. Anyone remember when NJ Sen. Cory Booker went off topic & started comparing himself to Spartacus the gladiator? See the video.

    When I want to go off topic and befuddle someone or something, choose topics like doggy dog & bow wow or collecting artifacts such as douche nozzles.

  2. This is about power and money.

    -Cut 50% of Fed gov
    -Move 75% of DC to Heartland
    -Remove entire leadership of DOJ, IRS, DHS and FBI
    -5% tax Gross wall street trans & money goes offshore
    -Tax all non-profits anyone gets $100k: colleges, hospitals, etc
    -Ban fed aid/loans cities, states & college, make them fund themselves
    -Remove tax credits renewables, affordable housing, etc
    -Jail Russian Hoax, COVID liars & Biden protectors, etc
    -Ban public union/company $ politics, only voters can fund politics
    -voting 1 day, in person, with ID, I don’t care if you vote, I care if you cheat
    – 12 year limit on federal office….judge, president, senate, congress
    – Roundup all illegals to raise wages and give Americans Jobs

  3. wonder when blacks will realize there are still on the Democrat Plantations? Camden NJ Democrat for 60 years…there High School has 5% of students at GRADE LEVEL

    Democrats WANT failure, poor, crime, drugs, etc….they skim the RESCUE MONEY!
    $300k cops, $150k retired teachers, etc COULD CARELESS that young black males are 3% of society, but commit 60% of all murders…mostly against their OWN communities!

  4. Many of the Black Democrats at the IRS hearing talked about a two-tiered system of justice—one for Blacks (tough) and one for Whites (lenient). One TV commentator wondered how these Democrats could want the justice system to go easy on a White man!

  5. Dear Prof Turley,

    I believe it was Glenn Greenwald who first coined the term ‘two-tiered system of justice’ in his 2011 book “With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful”.

    ” According to the book, the law was once a guarantor of a common set of rules for all. But Greenwald argues that over the past four decades, the principle of equality before the law has been effectively abolished. Instead, a two-tiered system of justice ensures that the country’s political and financial class is virtually immune from prosecution.”

    Of course, I had been thinking the same thing for some time. Obama was president and everything his predecessor, president G.W. Cheney, had ‘accomplished’ was swept under the rug. Virtually immune from prosecution.

    *’and here we are as on a darkling plain swept with confused alarms of fright .. . where ignorant armies clash by night’

  6. Democrats have totally debased themselves with their weaponization of race. Using race to deflect every charge and accusation is a weak strategy whose time will soon run out. They have anesthetized Americans against real racism, because now the term only evokes eye rolls and glazed looks. Many of us are sick and tired of the race card, and sick and tired of how Democrats are flocking to the defense of one of the most corrupt presidents in US history. The party will never get the stink of their race and corruption scams out of their bones.

  7. Dr. Johnson said that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. In modern America, black racism is the last refuge of the Democratic scoundrel.

  8. Do those complainers, who write our nation’s laws, have any basic knowledge of copyright and trademark law?

    Writing in agreement with the language of the article, I would suggest that they do not. Words when spoken or written do not automatically confer status of copyrighted to the person speaking those words. And even if they did, there is an exemption provided for limited public use of copyrighted material. Also, the more generic the term or phrase, the less likely it would be able to attain protected status under copyright law.

  9. The Dem party’s behavior would have been hysterical it was so ludicrous were this not such a serious situation. What we saw and have seen for years is pure dishonesty and malevolence in escalation, and it’s clear this is just how it’s going to be on their part henceforth.

    Do not kid yourselves, They are a modern fascist party, and more and more of its supporters are saying it openly (adding ‘Marxist’ to their handles) all the time. The Bidens and the other globalists are a kind of corrupt that transcends politics altogether; it may be an oversimplification to call them the ‘Soros Party’, but it’s apt all the same. Only ignorance or stupidity can explain supporting them for anyone outside the inner sanctum, it has to be one or the other.

  10. “Two-Tiered Legal System” = “Two-Tiered Social System”
    “𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 -vs- �𝐢𝐬𝐬𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐬𝐟𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧”

    This is 𝐀𝐌𝐄𝐑𝐈𝐂𝐀 🇺🇲 , We have a ‘standard-of-living’ which is well above many Others.
    Yet there are still Those that can not find 𝐀𝐩𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 for what we have accomplished.
    What they find is 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐬𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐬𝐟𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 and resolve too 𝐠𝐫𝐢𝐩𝐞, 𝐠𝐫𝐢𝐩𝐞, 𝐠𝐫𝐢𝐩𝐞.
    To which there is no 𝐞𝐧𝐝. Whereas an 𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 brings things to a sound close of 𝐬𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐬𝐟𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧.

    In all aspects of the “civil rights movement” it will not find an 𝐞𝐧𝐝. Just continued 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐬𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐬𝐟𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 and 𝐠𝐫𝐢𝐩𝐞, 𝐠𝐫𝐢𝐩𝐞, 𝐠𝐫𝐢𝐩𝐞.
    It has become a resistance to the progress of the American People.

    verb: gripe; 3rd person present: gripes; past tense: griped; past participle: griped; gerund or present participle: griping

    complain about something in a persistent, irritating way.


    noun: dis·sat·is·fac·tion; plural noun: dissatisfactions
    lack of satisfaction.


    noun: uh·pree·shee·ey·shuhn
    gratitude; thankful recognition: They showed their appreciation by giving him a gold watch.

    the act of estimating the qualities of things and giving them their proper value.

  11. A curious universe they live in. A 2 tier legal system or even multi-tier legal system predates this country by centuries. Even in the segregated Atlanta that I grew up in of the 1950-1960’s there were multiple tiers. We, of course had the racial divide. But there were even divisions in the races between rich and poor. There was a cultural, social, legal divide in the black community between rich and poor and light and darker skins. In the white community there was a divide between the rich Buckhead area in North Atlanta where the rich, white elites lived and other parts of the white communities of SW Atlanta, primarily middle class, and southeast Atlanta where the poorer lower class and some middle class lived. You could see it in the Public School system where the North Atlanta Schools were virtually private schools with facilities that put the rest of the school system, black and white, to shame. Very few arrests in the Buckhead area of that time. All the leaders lived there. Once you got outside the city limits, the white and black rural areas suffered adverse law enforcement, poor services, and terrible schools. And then you also had the racial divide there.
    North Atlanta both in-city and suburban fought the MARTA, transit system, because they did not want the ruffians of south Atlanta, black or white, polluting the pristine areas to the north especially Lenox square of that era.
    There is still a massive divide in Atlanta in income south of I-20 and north of I-20. The colors may change but the tiers don’t really change at all. I suspect much of the rest of the country is now very similar.
    More and more the 2-3-4 tier system is between rich and poor with some race added in. Hence the appeal of Trump. He uses that anger that the poorer side sees very clearly. For better or worse he gives voice to that anger. The disdain of the upper elites whether black or white is reprehensible. They should pay attention to these people or the anger will just grow more intense

    1. “More and more the 2-3-4 tier system is between rich and poor with some race added in. Hence the appeal of Trump. He uses that anger that the poorer side sees very clearly. For better or worse he gives voice to that anger.”

      As President, Trump helped to level the playing field, reducing the anger. Whether people see him so, Trump is a people man and not as graceless as he seems to many.

  12. Only a Democrat could argue, with a straight face, that the IRS targets blacks more than whites, a claim made yesterday (forgetting that tax docs don’t disclose race), as she defends a rich white guy, Hunter, from claims of leniency.

  13. Maybe Turley can explain why someone like Trump who has been indicated multiple times on national security issues is still walking around with no bail.

    1. Tweedle dee and tweedle dum. Dum is gone, but his statement was dum, dum, and dum.

      I heard the phrase sh1t for brains, and now I’ve seen him.

  14. Rather than haggling over whether it is a 2-tier system, or what the tiers are, the Biden justice department is just highlighting that it is a fundamentally unequal system of justice. In the past, it has always been obvious that purchasing more expensive legal representation was a good path to a better outcome. January 6 and Trump persecutions show that things like venue, biased judges and jury pool are now even more important. I’m following the Arizona election challenges and am simply amazed at how much evidence can be “legally” ignored. The sound-bites are all “Challenges to the 2020 election were all lost in court”, whereas the reality is that most of them were dismissed on technicalities without actual evidence being presented. Our justice system seems to have “justice” as a goal far below legal fine print and political impact. The future is not bright.

  15. “. . . their objections to the use of the phrase “two-tiered legal system’ . . .”

    Same old, worn out playbook: Your conclusions make us uncomfortable. We can’t rebut your arguments. We don’t wish to see your facts or evidence. So we’ll launch a fusillade of personal attacks (this time accusing you of “cultural appropriation”).

    I used to respect (not agree with) democrats because they articulated reasons and arguments. Now they have become utterly mindless, and vicious.

  16. House Democrats are frantically trying to change the narrative because the new revelations about how the Bidens were given extraordinarily preferential treatment by the DOJ and the FBI looks terrible. It looks lie two-tiered legal system because it clearly is. Welcome to Amerika…..

    1. SkyRaider,
      I would call it desperation.
      That is the fun thing about all this. The more they claim there is not a two tiered justice system, the more facts come out, the more we all see it.

    2. Skyraider….House Republicans are frantically giving trillions to criminal Democrats…just last month…they GAVE Democrats unlimited Trillions by removing any debt cap!

  17. Who cares about terminology? I’m more interested in learning what the Chinese got for their money? Perhaps the right to fly spy balloons over sensitive military installations in our country?

    1. by the looks of Biden’s dress attire, one could wager that Joe and Hunter got free dry cleaning services

      What has Orange County (Orlando), Florida gotten in return for 26 year old Maxwell Frost, a Valencia college drop out, “community activist”™, failed Uber Driver, who has had no accomplishments to his name, other than being a Democrat grifter in Congress?

      For that matter, what has southwestern Pennsylvania gotten in return for 35 year old Summer Lee, who graduated from Howard University law school, and never held a job in her adult life other than being a “community activist”™ for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 failed Presidential campaign?

      One sees a trend here. Be a failure at life, call yourself a “community activist”™, be a grifter while using the race card, and become an obnoxious racist, wealthy, self-aggrandizer and destabilizer of the greatest country in the world. Cue Barack Obama.

      Summer Lee opposed another pro-Israel resolution
      They cited concerns over increased violence and the Israeli government’s efforts to weaken the independence of the judiciary. “Whether we’re talking about India, Israel or Sri Lanka, we are not true allies if we cannot push our partners to uphold basic human rights and democratic values,” Ms. Lee said Tuesday.

      Increasing violence, weakening the judiciary, pushing “democratic values” on other countries while undermining US Democracy are hallmarks of Democrats, so naturally Summer Lee would be a darling of the MSM. She will need an Uber Driver to shuttle her to her press gatherings

    2. JavaFiend,
      Great question.
      A question I have is what does Zelenski and others have on the Bidens.

      1. I am pretty sure they all have videos or audios of Hunter and Joe negotiating terms.

        1. As if videos, facts, evidence, a blood stained knife, smoking gun and blue stained dress ever persuaded the Dem Cult of anything other than their delusional dystopia

  18. Progressives clowns doing their best to keep their stupid progressive audience members entertained

  19. By demonstration, I learned Black Dem Politicians only care about pushing the phony grievance scam. Not the brightest bulbs on the box.

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