Republican Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson was booed during the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing on slavery reparations after he contended that reparations may not be constitutional.
“Here in the Judiciary Committee we have an obligation to acknowledge that any monetary reparations that might be recommended by the commission created by H.R. 40 would almost certainly be unconstitutional on their face,” Johnson said before he was booed by members of the crowd.
Johnson spoke during a meeting of subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Tuesday to discuss a House bill to “study and develop reparation proposals for African-Americans.” H.R. 40 would also explore if the United States government would need to issue a formal apology for “the perpetration of gross human rights violations and crimes against humanity on African slaves and their descendants.”
“The reason for that is a legal question,” Johnson continued after the chairman gaveled for silence. “See, the legal question is: the federal government can’t constitutionally provide compensation today to a specific racial group because other members of that group, maybe several generations ago, were discriminated against and treated inhumanely.”
The House Republican Study Committee chairman further explained that the United States Supreme Court would likely consider the proposal to be an unconstitutional racial preference.
“The holding of the 1995 case Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co. is that racial set asides and other entitlements are only constitutionally permissible to remedy the present effects of the government’s own widespread in recent discrimination,” Johnson explained. “The federal government is not allowed to provide race-based remedies that are ‘ageless in their region of the past and timeless in their ability to effect the future.’”
“Barack Obama opposed reparations when he ran for president in 2008,” he said. “Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders did as well eight years later.”
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