At what looks to be a mostly white town hall in Gainesville, Florida, Tea Party Republican Rep. Ted Yoho was asked if he thought the Civil Rights Act of 1965 (assuming the questioner meant 1964) was constitutional. He couldn’t answer the question. Going Ron Paul adjacent, he said he isn’t sure if it’s constitutional, all he knows is it’s the law of the land.
Melvin Flournoy, a 57-year-old African American, was not impressed, according to Scott Keyes at Think Progress. “I wasn’t surprised, but I was disappointed that he doesn’t support the Civil Rights Act,” Flournoy told Think Progress. He also called it one of the most important pieces of legislation in American history.
Watch here via Think Progress:
Flournoy asked, “Do you think that any part of the Civil Rights Act of 1965, do you think any part of that is constitutional? And then if you’d discuss why?”
Representative Yoho responded with a duck and dodge, “This country grew through a lot of growing pain. We’re going through it again. As we grow as a country and prosper, we’re going to go through it again in the future.” What? Okay, non-answer.
But Yoho super loves the Constitution even though he doesn’t know anything about it, “That’s why I’m so thankful for the Constitution because it allows us to do that. Is it Constitutional, the Civil Rights Act? I wish I could answer that one hundred percent. I know a lot of things that were passed are not constitutional, but I know it’s the law of the land.”
Keyes points out that actually, the question is asked and answered. Sigh. Yes, it’s Constitutional.
Civil Rights Act of 1964: “Prohibited discrimination in public accommodations, facilities, and schools. Outlawed discrimination in federally funded projects. Created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to monitor employment discrimination in public and private sectors. Provided additional capacities to enforce voting rights. Extended the Civil Rights Commission for four years. Passed by the 88th Congress (1963-1965) as H.R. 7152.”
Ron Paul also believes that the Civil Rights Act is not Constitutional because it impedes on (white man’s) liberty and has hindered racial relations. Things were better on the plantation, eh?
There’s a host of major Civil Rights Acts passed by Congress, one of which came the following year, in 1965– Voting Rights Act of 1965:
Suspended the use of literacy tests and voter disqualification devices for five years. Authorized the use of federal examiners to supervise voter registration in states that used tests or in which less than half the voting-eligible residents registered or voted. Directed the U.S. Attorney General to institute proceedings against use of poll taxes. Provided criminal penalties for individuals who violated the act. Passed by the 89th Congress (1965-1967) as S. 1564.
I think we all know how Republicans feel about that.
Republicans like to believe that there is no reason to legislate rights of the oppressed and minority groups. They natter on about how it impedes liberty, and their reasoning can sound attractive and practical at times. But the whole picture tells a much uglier story.
Republicans are doing the same thing regarding their objections to equal pay laws for women. They are fighting any laws that would give women the right to fight back legally if they find out they have been paid less for the same job, because they claim this is unnecessary. Yet in their own office of Attorney General of Texas, just for example, women are being paid less than men for the same work.
This leads to the obvious conclusion that the reason Republicans don’t want legislation protecting minorities and women is because they might use it, and it gets in the way of the ruling class patriarchs entitlement to make unchecked decisions that benefit them and the status quo. There is, after all, a clear need for these laws. It’s not that a few people got screwed over — it’s that a class of people are being denied their rights because it benefits those in power to deny them their rights.
Yoho “doesn’t know” if it’s constitutional to have legally protected equal rights for everyone? That’s almost funny, given the foundation of this country. Yes, the idea of an upwardly mobile society based on hard work was only applicable to white men in the beginning, but we evolved. What Republicans are really saying is that they don’t want to share the rights and privileges they have become accustomed to.
Update: Due to my failure to make this obvious, I have sadly changed “He don’t know nothing about it” to the proper grammar. It was a reference to Prissy from GWTW, “I don’t know nothing ’bout birthin’ babies!” A moment that perfectly captured for me a US Rep not knowing anything about the Constitution.