Skip to comments.Embracing Exclusivity: How civic religion at inauguration abridges religious freedom
Posted on 02/05/2009 7:39:27 AM PST by ReligiousLibertyTV
In 1892, the 1/8th black Homer Plessy was convicted of violating Louisiana law by sitting in a Whites only railroad car. He took his case all the way to the Supreme Court, where his conviction was upheld by an 8-1 margin. A statute which implies merely a legal distinction between the white and colored races, wrote the Court, has no tendency to destroy the legal equality of the two races.
The lone dissenter in that case was Justice John Marshall Harlan, who refused to buy into the majoritys logic. Although it was true that whites and blacks were treated equally in a literal sense (since the law prohibited whites from riding in colored cars just as much as the opposite), Justice Harlan focused upon the real meaning of the legislation: that colored citizens are so inferior and degraded that they cannot be allowed to sit in public coaches occupied by white citizens.
It took fifty-eight years for the Supreme Court to recognize that Justice Harlans view was correct. In Brown v. Board of Education, the real meaning of separate but equal i.e., that the nations white majority was using the government to affirm its self-proclaimed racial superiority was put to an end. As a result, the whole of American society changed, so much so that we now have an African American poised to become the nations president. Surely, Barack Obama would never have been elected had Plessy remained the law of the land.
And yet not everyone has learned the lesson of Brown, including, of all people, Barack Obama. The message that we in the majority are better than some minority to which our Constitution guarantees equality is once again about to be sent.
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