It is said that politics makes strange bedfellows. An addendum to the old adage could be “that American racial politics particularly in regards to business makes for even stranger bedfellows.” Such is the sentiment surrounding the recent alliance between President Donald Trump and the media giant Comcast.
A relationship built on what seems to be accountability, the left-leaning cable news channel MSNBC has been the proverbial thorn in the current administration’s side. Popular TV host such as Rachel Maddow, Joe Scarborough and Al Sharpton have brought to light some of the most discriminatory practices of the administration, and finding themselves star players in the president’s almost predictable early morning #FakeNews tweet fest. President Trump’s disdain for MSNBC and the politics espoused on the network has been well documented.
But then something happened to change his mind.
In mid August, Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco filed a 33-page amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court that not only soften his public opinion about this media goliath, but created a political alliance that could shift civil rights forever.
S. G. Fransico’s brief supports Comcast’s position in its $20 billion civil rights case, lead by Entertainment Studio’s Byron Allen. Allen’s lawsuit contends that Comcast has discriminated against him by not carrying his collective of cable channels. The case has found its way all the way up to the Supreme Court, with an upcoming hearing on Nov. 13. Both sides believe for very different reasons that whatever the decision is in this case (as noted in the brief), “may have repercussions for other federal anti-discrimination laws that the United States enforces or that apply to the federal government.”
Allen’s lawsuit was filed against Comcast in California under the Civil Rights Act of 1866 law. The over 150 year old law may seem dated or even archaic in some circles (after all America has witness its first African American president), but many scholars believe that an attack on this law will jeopardize the civil rights of people of color indefinitely.
The Civil Rights Act of 1866 was instituted after the end of slavery to ensure that African Americans have the same rights as whites, particularly as it pertains to business contracts. The Reconstruction-era law also protected newly freed Black people from abuse in the work place, as they were now legally entering into contracts with their former owners.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Drexel University professor from the Thomas R. Kline School of Laws said that “today very few people are openly racist, so they hide behind other reasons. A law that requires someone to say that race is the only reason for discrimination will be very hard to prove.”