Congressman Davis' Statement on Supreme Court decision on "Muslim Ban"
WASHINGTON, DC - Once again, as has happened so many times in the past, America is being tested. Read any grade or high school civics text and you will find soaring rhetoric about our commitment to individual liberty and equality, to freedom of the press, freedom of religion, due process, right to vote, freedom of association and right to organize ... For most Americans, those noble ideals are what we love most about our country. Today’s Supreme Court decision on President Trump’s “Muslim ban” reminds us that history does not bear out the reality of life in America in such simple terms. This decision is a giant step backwards for America.
It is an attempt to put a thin veneer of legality on a policy of religious intolerance and national hatred. It is an attempt to place the actions and will of an authoritarian executive branch above the constitution, above the law. It will not stand, any more than Dred Scott v. Sandford, Pace v. Alabama, the Civil Rights Cases of 1883, Plessy v. Ferguson, Bradwell v. Illinois, Lochner v. New York, Hammer v. Dagenhart, Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, Hirabayashi v. United States, Korematsu v. United States, Bush v. Gore, Bowers v. Hardwick , Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, Citizens United v. FEC. It could well be that tomorrow will see another disastrous decision in the Janus case.
Most of the cases cited above are now just history, they no longer stand. The remainder, I will assert, are on the road to history, they will be over ruled, as a result of the American people demanding that they be over ruled.
Our “founding fathers” accepted slavery as legal, moral and normal and counted slaves from Africa as 3/5 of a person. Blacks had “no rights which the White man was bound to respect”; slaves were “property” and had no more rights than any other types of property including the right to life. Slaves were forbidden to learn to read or write. Slaves only function in society were as a perpetual source of labor, charged with reproducing themselves as a source of future labor. The plantation system wrung uncounted profits out of the labor of slaves under a regime of unbridled cruelty enforced by a reign of terror and “justified” by a pseudo-scientific culture denying not only their equality by their humanity.
Our “founding fathers” did not envision women as equals: married women were legally dead in the eyes of the law, women had no vote, married women had no property rights and husbands could imprison or beat them with impunity, most occupations and educational opportunities were closed to women and when women did work they were paid only a fraction of what men earned, women were largely not allowed to participate in the affairs of the church.
Asian Americans and those immigrating from Asian countries, China, Japan, India, the Philippines where singled out for especially harsh limitations on their rights, including total exclusion from immigration to the United States and internment in prison camps during World War II. Chinese and Filipino workers were a major source of cheap labor and super profits for big business.
Native Americans were driven off their land and were subjected to a regime of brutal genocide of unimaginable scope. They were denied citizenship in their own land and forced to live in “reservations” were they were starved and exploited and where corruption by Federal government officials was the order of the day. They were forced to reject their own religion and their own language and adopt Christianity. Their history as a people was suppressed, distorted and falsified. Their solemn national treaties with the Federal government were broken, and broken again.
We, the people, have made some great strides in overcoming these deep stains on our history, these crippling wounds on our democracy. We, the people, did this. We did this with our votes, our demonstrations, our marches, our strikes, our voices, our organizing, our solidarity, our sit downs, our knees and yes, sometimes, our very lives. These advances have only come as a result of long, often painful, years of struggle. We have successfully changed our laws and our constitution. We have slowly and painfully made progress in overcoming deeply entrenched prejudices, attitudes and customs based on race, gender, religion, age, language, wealth, and national origin.
Yet, the pernicious, lingering effects of these horrors remain stubbornly embedded in our society today. Clearly, the job is not yet done. Now is not the time to despair. Now is a time to rally, to renew and redouble our struggle for peace, equality social and economic justice for all. I am committed to reject this administration’s use of appeals to racial and national hatred, fear mongering, to jingoism, misogyny and chauvinism to divide us. I am certain that, we, the people, will prevail.
Congressman Davis is the Ranking Member of the Human Resources Committee on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee