“Above, we discussed the potential malleability of merit determinations when judgments permit discretion and reviewed how employer defendants might shift standards and reweight criteria when evaluating applicants and employees. Here, we want to recognize that a parallel phenomenon may affect juror decisionmaking. Suppose that a particular juror is White and that he identifies strongly with his Whiteness. Suppose further that the defendant is White and is being sued by a racial minority. The accusation of illegal and immoral behavior threatens the status of the juror’s racial ingroup. Anca Miron, Nyla Branscombe, and Monica Biernat have demonstrated that this threat to the ingroup can motivate people to shift standards in a direction that shields the ingroup from ethical responsibility. Miron and colleagues asked White undergraduates at the University of Kansas to state how strongly they identified with America. Then they were asked various questions about America’s relationship to slavery and its aftermath. These questions clumped into three categories (or constructs): judgments of harm done to Blacks, standards of injustice, and collective guilt. Having measured these various constructs, the researchers looked for relationships among them. Their hypothesis was that the greater the self-identification with America, the higher the standards would be before being willing to call America racist or otherwise morally blameworthy (that is, the participants would set higher confirmatory standards). They found that White students who strongly identified as American set higher standards for injustice (that is, they wanted more evidence before calling America unjust); they thought less harm was done by slavery; and, as a result, they felt less collective guilt compared to other White students who identified less with America. In other words, their attitudes toward America were correlated with the quantum of evidence they required to reach a judgment that America had been unjust.”

Source: Hon. Mark W. Bennett, Devon Carbado, Pam Casey, Jerry Kang,  et al. “Implicit Bias In The Courtroom.” 56 UCLA L. Review 1124, 1164-1165. 2012.


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