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February 03, 2010

Obama Supports Jim Crow Law To Oppose Free Speech Ruling

Justice Clarence Thomas is regularly attacked and denigrated by left-wingers who struggle with the notion that there can be an intelligent, educated black man who is capable of thinking for himself. Actually, I take that isn't quite right. I really ought to have put the period after "man". But so expansive is his knowledge of the law, the Constitution, and the history of both that he can pull this obscure point out of his judicial robes to point out just how pernicious the impulse to allow government to censor speech really is.

He added that the history of Congressional regulation of corporate involvement in politics had a dark side, pointing to the Tillman Act, which banned corporate contributions to federal candidates in 1907.

“Go back and read why Tillman introduced that legislation,” Justice Thomas said, referring to Senator Benjamin Tillman. “Tillman was from South Carolina, and as I hear the story he was concerned that the corporations, Republican corporations, were favorable toward blacks and he felt that there was a need to regulate them.”

It is thus a mistake, the justice said, to applaud the regulation of corporate speech as “some sort of beatific action.”

Yeah, that is right. Barack Obama stood before the people of the United States and praised legislation introduced by a fellow Democrat who preceded him in the US Senate, one of the most vile enemies of African-Americans to ever serve in the United States Senate, a despicable man who owed his election to public office to his participation in an armed assault upon a body of black soldiers during Reconstruction and the lynching of several of these soldiers, and a dangerous demagogue who was censured for his physical assault of another Senator on the floor of the US Senate and barred from the White House over the incident. Indeed, an honest observer could rightly refer to the Tillman Act, lauded today by Obama and his fellow enemies of free speech, as the "Shut Up The N*gger-Lovers Act of 1907". If I were to construct a case to demonstrate the fundamental evil of allowing government to censor and silence disfavored speech, this piece of legislation that successfully silenced the voices of those who supported constitutional rights for all Americans would stand as Exhibit A in that effort.

So today we stand at a crossroads, faced with the choice between listening to a respected jurist as he defends the First Amendment and an adjunct law school faculty member (speaking far beyond his pay grade) to defend a Jim Crow law he finds politically advantageous to support.

51WS9dP2zhL._SL500_AA240_[1].jpg
“It can hardly be expected
that any Negro would
regret the death of
Benjamin Tillman.
"
-- W.E.B. DuBois

What a pity that the first black man to sit in the Oval Office would use the occasion of his first State of the Union address to validate the life and work of a vile racist like "Pitchfork Ben" Tillman in an effort to undermine the Supreme Court and constrict the guarantee of free speech inserted into the Constitution at the very beginning of the Republic.

UPDATE: Here is the audio of Justice Thomas speaking on the Citizens United decision. His comments on the Tillman Act are at the very beginning. (H/T Lonely Conservative)





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It does not surprise me that Clarence Thomas can make very cogent legal arguments, nor does it surprise me that right-wingers are incapable of understanding them.

The majority's ruling did not deal with the Tillman Act, in fact did not mention the Tillman Act at all (although Justic Stevens mentions it several times in his dissent, and explains the reasons why it was passed very differently from Thomas). The majority's ruling overturned two previous decisions - one was Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which dealt with the Michigan Campaign Finance Act of 1976, and McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, which dealt with the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, also known as McCain-Feingold.

Obama, in criticizing the court, did not praise legislation sponsored by Tillman; if anything, he praised legislation sponsored by John McCain, a Republican, and his opponent in the most recent election.

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