In a perfect dose of Friday news, a New York judge cited Jay-Z while allowing a lawsuit brought by public housing residents to continue against the City of New York.
The public housing residents and their visitors claim Fourth Amendment violations when visitors are detained as “trespassers” in public housing complexes. The city moved to kill the suit, but Judge Shira Scheindlin (S.D.N.Y. issued an 84-page opinion saying that the public housing residents could pursue their claims.
Normally, I throw my lot in with the segment of humanity who would rather be eating Brussels sprouts at a Phil Collins concert than reading 84-page public housing decisions. But Judge Scheindlin threw a Jay-Z reference into one of her footnotes. Fun! Unless you hate black people, in which case Judge Scheindlin is deeply subversive…
A federal judge cited Jay-Z, noted rapper and legal philosopher, in a footnote to her order approving a lawsuit challenging New York City’s practice of sending “vertical patrols” of police to search public housing residents…
She cited a St. Louis University School of Law Prof. Caleb Mason’s paper “Jay-Z’s ’99 Problems,’ Verse 2: A Close Reading of the Fourth Amendment Guidance for Cops and Perps.”
In one of his most popular songs, the rapper Jay-Z — who grew up in NYCHA’s Marcy Houses in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn — showcased his knowledge of these Fourth Amendment rights. See 99 Problems, The Black Album (Roc-A-Fella Records 2003). See also Caleb Mason, Jay-Z’s 99 Problems, Verse 2: A Close Reading with Fourth Amendment Guidance for Cops and Perps, 56 St. Louis L.J. 567 (2012).
Okay, cool story brah. One judge’s attempt to sound hip in front of the kids.
But that’s not how the people over at Judicial Watch saw it. Their “Corruption Files” column blared out this headline:
Fed Judge Cites Gangsta Rapper’s Profane Song in Ruling
Okay, I don’t think I’ve heard Jay-Z referred to as a “gangsta rapper” this decade, but then again nobody actually uses that term anymore. Whatever, the dog whistling gets worse:
Supporting her stance in the 84-page decision, the judge refers to a well-known black rapper (Jay-Z; real name Shawn Corey Carter) who grew up in New York public housing and, evidently, went on to record a song about his arrest for drug possession.
This sentence is freaking ridiculous. Even if you are not conversant in the song, don’t act like you’ve never heard of 99 Problems, or act like your readers don’t already know that Jay-Z is black. Honestly, that sentence would be like me writing, “[M]alnourished white person, Taylor Swift, is evidently very popular among those who value the freedom of mobile homes.”
They go on:
The song (“99 Problems”) the judge refers to is attached in a law-school paper that claims it’s the perfect tool to teach the Fourth Amendment. In it Jay-Z admits, in gangsta lingo, that he was transporting drugs in his car when he saw cops in his rearview mirror. The lyrics include strong profanity that can’t be published here.
Yes, because the people at Judicial Watch don’t know where the f**king asterisk key is.
My question is: how far beyond the pale have you gone when you’re trying to turn judicial notice of a Jay-Z reference into a commentary on the liberal/black menace infecting our judicial system? Is there a bigger “crossover” success right now? Christ on the radio, MILEY CYRUS makes a Jay-Z reference in her song about how great the U.S.A. is.
Rap-Quoting Judge Preps Housing Patrol Trial [Courthouse News Service]
Fed Judge Cites Gangsta Rapper’s Profane Song in Ruling [Judicial Watch]