Washington Law Review


What follows is a speech on the significance of Judge Betty Binns Fletcher’s opinions in the area of race and anti-discrimination law delivered at the University of Washington School of Law’s symposium, A Tribute to the Honorable Betty Binns Fletcher, honoring Judge Fletcher’s thirtieth year on the bench. I argue that, in an era when the Supreme Court has increasingly refused to recognize anti-discrimination claims, Judge Fletcher’s intensely fact-sensitive method of deciding such cases is as important as the results she has reached. Against the Supreme Court’s perfectionist jurisprudence, predicated on the assumption that by excising race from law, one can eliminate discrimination in society, Judge Fletcher has developed a jurisprudence of maximum consciousness, predicated on the assumption that judicial officers are obliged by the Fourteenth Amendment and our history to remain acutely aware of the risk of slippage between seemingly rational, neutral social action and irrational stereotype, cognitive bias, and animus.

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