A case headed to the U.S. Supreme Court that could have a tremendously negative impact on the Black community’s civil rights as it pertains to fair play in contracting and other measures is beginning to capture attention.
Nearly a week after the Justice Department filed an amicus brief in regard to the lawsuit between Entertainment Studios chairman and CEO Byron Allen and Comcast Corp., at least one group has reacted, blasting the Trump administration as the case moves forward.
Allen is suing Comcast Corp. and Charter Communications over racial discrimination after the cable giant refused to include Entertainment Studios programming on their networks. He cites a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, whose section 1981 prohibits racial discrimination in contracts.
All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same right in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give evidence, and to the full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of persons and property as is enjoyed by white citizens, and shall be subject to like punishment, pains, penalties, taxes, licenses, and exactions of every kind, and to no other.
This means the impact of the case could affect civil rights across the board by setting a precedent in which companies will be guided as to whether or not they are subject to the provisions of the statute. If the Justice Department’s brief is favored by the Supreme Court in November, it means the interpretation of the statute could affect the intention of it to protect African American civil rights, which has held for more than 150 years.
The controversial brief filed by the DOJ says they want Allen to prove that race was the singular motivating factor in his claim, which he says unfairly misinterprets the statute to his disadvantage.
In an opinion piece published on theGrio.com this week, Allen called it “perverting a key provision of the law that protects minority businesses at a time when people of color are under heightened attack. All for what Comcast says is in its best financial interest.”
When reached for comment on this unprecedented move by the Trump administration and Comcast to attack the civil rights of African Americans, a spokesperson for the Congressional Black Caucus released a statement to theGrio:
“The Trump Administration has aggressively worked to dismantle policies meant to root out discrimination,” said Gabrielle Brown, Communications Director for the Congressional Black Caucus. “We have long said that as egregious as Donald Trump’s racist words are, his policies are even worse and are doing the most damage to minority communities. Our caucus is committed to continuing aggressive oversight of the Administration to mitigate the impacts of his dangerous and out of touch policies, which include opening the door to discrimination in contracts.”
It is unclear, however, if the CBC will file its own amicus brief in relation to the case.
TheGrio has reached out to several civil rights organizations on the issue including the NAACP, the National Urban League, the Rainbow Push Coalition and Color of Change, but has not heard back.
A representative for the National Action Network said officials with that organization were not available for comment.