After the devastating reversal of Roe v. Wade by SCOTUS this week which prohibits women from having bodily autonomy, US Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) used the opportunity to make another request from the US Supreme Court; reverse Plessy vs. Ferguson/Board of Education and reinstitute legal segregation of races.
Homer Plessy, a biracial Man, was arrested in 1892 for sitting in the Whites-Only section of a passenger train that was taking him from New Orleans to Covington, a short journey by standards of the day. The conductor of the train demanded Plessy move to the section reserved for Black people even though the White’s- only section of the train was empty, so Plessy refused.
Mr. Plessy deeply disapproved of segregation of the law instituted two years prior which included segregation on train cars. This led him to test the limits of the law itself and demonstrate its abuse and unconstitutionality.
He was charged and convicted in court by the presiding Judge, John H. Ferguson. Ferguson claimed in his ruling that segregation of the races was a constitutional law that still favored the “Separate but Equal” doctrine.
Mr. Plessy then sued Judge Ferguson for violating the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Plessy and other Black activists and allies at the time had been attempting to mobilize the community to fight back against the avalanche of Jim Crow laws that were legitimizing bigotry and weaponizing legislation to harm Black Americans.
And he lost.
The US Supreme Court ruled in 1896 that “Separate but Equal” functioned in a way that satisfied the constitution, using that as justification for continued segregation and discrimination. According to History.com; “The Court denied that segregated railroad cars for Black people were necessarily inferior. “We consider the underlying fallacy of [Plessy’s] argument,” Justice Henry Brown wrote, ‘to consist in the assumption that the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority. If this be so, it is not by reason of anything found in the act, but solely because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it.’”
Only one Judge dissented from the ruling, Justice John Marshall Harlan who had, himself, disagreed that slaves should be free or be granted any civil rights. However, he changed his position on the case largely because of the atrocious acts committed by White Nationalist groups like The Ku Klux Klan who have often created and taken the law into their own hands where it concerned the Black community throughout the South.
It wasn’t until 1954 when the Landmark ruling for Brown vs. Board of Education came down that the US Supreme Court revisited Plessy’s case from nearly 50 years prior when Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote in his ruling that “the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place” and that segregation in public schools had been “inherently unequal.” The majority of the Supreme Court Justices sided with the plaintiff’s in the Brown case and had determined that the Black community was indeed being “deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.”
Overturning Plessy vs Ferguson/Brown vs Board of Education means segregation would be returned to the individual states to determine instead of a Federal law.
I’ve frequently spoken about how profoundly emboldened Trump acolytes serving in the highest echelons of government have become with their bigotry, but Senator Cornyn’s public missive, enthusiastically expressing his desire to use the majority Conservative Supreme Court to legitimize discrimination by enshrining it into law once again should absolutely terrify everyone. This archaic attitude regarding race should never be tolerated, especially from a lawmaker.
This is where we are, with the new Supreme Court comprised of Trump-Era conservative Judges willing to revoke rights to suit a religious ideology and show off their intolerance like a boy scout badge they’re proud of. This is unforgivable and certainly makes it evident what Cornyn’s intentions are.
Justice Clarence Thomas has signaled that he is urging the Supreme Court to also revisit other landmark rulings with the intent to overturn them, including equal marriage, contraception access and the decriminalization of gay sex. With all that’s happened, this should be considered an inevitability now that all laws not codified are the target.
It should be noted that the Texas GOP submitted a resolution to reject the results of the 2020 election and live in a fantasy world where the former President is still the President. They’ve also discusses seceding from the US, claiming that “Woke Culture” is destroying the country.
At this point, if Cornyn’s vile comments represent the entirety of the Texas political body, I’d be happy to see them go. They do not represent America, and it’s becoming more evident by the day. It’s also quite staggering that a man saturated by privilege and holding one of the most respected seats in the nation can boast about such divisive and hostile beliefs yet somehow still serve from that seat without a shred of shame.
We’ve normalized this behavior from our leaders now. They’re emboldened by their impunity. We as a people have accepted more than any population of any country ever should. We are lied to, manipulated, referred to as teams emphasizing their polarizing efforts to appeal to only one ilk of the American melting pot. Today, a Trump-endorsed candidate for Illinois state Congress, Mary Miller, told those at her rally that “Hitler got one thing right… Whoever has the youth has the future.” She said, referencing the necessity of recruiting youth into the GOP movement.
They aren’t even being discreet about their prejudices anymore because they’ve never seen one of them pay any political consequences. America is a country where a President can attempt a coup by manipulating millions of people into believing they are victims, carry on with the big lie of a stolen election, commit more crimes than a Chicago gangster in the 30’s…. and run for President again. We have come to expect and accept this corrosive behavior from powerful men. We feel powerless as a community, we’ve witnessed unthinkable assaults on our better sensibilities only to see no one pay any consequences. This has resulted in these politicians feeling incredibly brave- fearless even- because… what are you gunna do about it?
And I suppose that’s a fair question.
Until then, I’ll leave you with more commentary from this sitting Senator who will be running for re-election.
Just pondering Mussolini…
Disappointed at the shifting demographic of his State means white people won’t always be the majority.
More cops, more guns, pushing that Texas rumor that the State motto is actually God, Guns and Glory.
On the reversal of Roe v Wade:
Oh, the horrors…
Senator Cornyn’s supporters have defended the lawmaker’s tweet claiming that he was simply using those cases to remind the public that there had, in the past, been rulings that were reversed. Brown vs. Board of Education overrode the previous Plessy vs. Ferguson ruling, once and for all abolishing segregation. But, that was a positive move by the Supreme Court. Senator Cornyn, merely hours after the brief was handed down that revoked Roe v Wade, tweeted “Now do Plessy vs. Ferguson/Brown vs. Board of Education” in a response to the first Black President. I don’t believe for a moment Cornyn was simply enlightening us, I believe he was rallying a call to action in hopes of reinstituting segregation. “Now do…” is a directive. Not everyone believes the excuse. BET.com says, “…the comparison is puzzling considering Roe, similar to Brown, established rights for people, while its reversal removed them.” Others agreed across social media.