Commentary by Nina May
Democrats are still whining about strict constructionists wanting to honor the original intent of the Constitution instead of seeing it as a “living, breathing document” that takes on the cultural nuances of the day. It is not surprising though that they still hold that view of the Constitution after more than 100 years of applying their own interpretations to very clear and concise Amendments to the Constitution.
Ironically, as we remember the heroic, historic stance that Rosa Parks took against institutionalized racism, we have to unravel the reasons as to why she was forced to object to being considered less than equal to the white men on the bus. And the ball of yarn rolls right to the feet of the Democratic Party.
In 1868 the 14th Amendment was passed giving equal rights to all citizens regardless of race. It states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The Republicans in congress passed it unanimously while not one single Democrat voted for it. This was the case with every other civil rights bill passed in the 1800s. By 1875, ten years after the end of the war to abolish slavery, almost 2 dozen civil rights laws were passed by Republicans and opposed by Democrats.
By 1892, when the Democrats controlled the House, the Senate and the White House, they began to repeal all of the Civil Rights laws and the Supreme Court chose to ignore the 14th Amendment and saw the Constitution as a “living breathing document” that reflected their racists, segregationists views. In 1896 they ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that equal didn’t necessarily mean that blacks and whites should share in the same things at the same time, and that institutionalized segregation was acceptable despite the fact that the 14th Amendment was clear that it wasn’t. This ruling was overturned almost 60 years later in Brown v. Board of Education. The Democratic response to this was to issue the Southern Manefesto which repudiated this ruling. It was signed by 100 Democrats from the House and Senate . . . not one Republican signed it.
But it wasn’t only the 14th Amendment that the Supreme Court and the Democratic controlled congress ignored. The 15th Amendment, which passed in 1870, giving blacks the right to vote was passed by 100% of Republicans in Congress, and again, not one single Democrat supported it. It wasn’t very difficult to understand what their position was on the issue of blacks voting, or being equal members in society. But, as with the equal protection Amendment to the Constitution, they chose to ignore and reinterpret that ruling. They determined that blacks could vote IF, they could pass literacy tests, pay poll taxes, dance on one leg while reciting the Crispin Day speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V. Anything to make sure that blacks could not vote. And why didn’t Democrats want blacks to vote? Well, could it be because they voted almost unanimously for the party of Lincoln . . .the party that was founded specifically to abolish slavery . . . the Republican Party?
So we have seen what happens when the original intent of the Constitution is transformed into a document that suits the whims and desires of one class of people to total oppress another. And, that perfect illustration was played out when Rosa Parks, who was denied a strict constructionist view of the original intent of the 14th Amendment, was forced to reject that ruling, make her voice be known, and ignite a revolution that would never have been necessary if one party had not held to its views that the Constitution is a “living, breathing document” to be interpreted by the whims and nuances of the day.
And even after seeing the incredible harm, destroyed lives, and divided nation that this type of thinking has caused the nation, the majority of Democrats in congress; still hold to the flawed belief today, that the Constitution is open to interpretation based on their current political agenda.
(The documentary, Emancipation, Revelation/Revolution, goes into greater detail about the history of the civil rights movement in America. It is planned to be released in the next couple of months. Go to www.ERRVideo.com for more info.)
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