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Human rights organizations have coordinated an investigation into torture and an extensive defense of detainees, organizing lawyers who represent clients from nonprofits to oil and gas companies. But the issue of torture needs to transcend the legal world.

Congress has decided to grant the gun lobby its most fervent and irresponsible wish: blanket immunity from civil lawsuits.

As an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, David Cole represents Maher Arar and Ahmed Abu Ali in their civil cases against the government.

As I write, several days before the election, Congress's last-minute effort to enact the 9/11 Commission's recommendations appears to have stalled, largely because of disagreement over the scope

Media monopolists were dealt a rare setback when the Philadelphia-based US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit blocked implementation of last year's decision by the Federal Communications Comm

George W.
Bush has declared that tort reform will be a major part of his
forthcoming campaign.

Eben Moglen has been
representing parties sued by the recording industry and is working on a
book about the death of intellectual property.

In the late summer and fall of 1997, small news leaks began appearing
that Mayor Edward Rendell of Philadelphia (who is now governor of
Pennsylvania) was thinking about suing the firearms indus

On February 26 for the first time a judge will make substantive and
procedural rulings on a probable eight lawsuits that are at the cutting
edge of the movement to compensate African-Americans

On November 7, voters in Alabama erased from that state's Constitution a provision dating from 1901 that declared that "the legislature shall never pass any law to authorize or legalize any marriage between any white person and a Negro, or descendant of a Negro." This declaration represented in part a desire by white supremacists to express as fully as possible their intention to expunge the racially egalitarian symbols, hopes and reforms of Reconstruction. Although Alabama had never enacted a law expressly authorizing interracial marriage, in 1872 the state's Supreme Court did invalidate the law that prohibited such unions. But it promptly reversed itself in 1877 when white supremacists regained power. The Alabama Constitution's disapproval of interracial marriage, however, had still deeper roots. It stemmed from the presumption that white men had the authority to dictate whom, in racial terms, a person could and could not marry. It was also rooted in the belief that certain segments of the population were simply too degraded to be eligible as partners in marriage with whites. At one point or another, forty states prohibited marriage across racial lines. In all of them blacks were stigmatized as matrimonial untouchables. In several, "Mongolians" (people of Japanese or Chinese ancestry), "Malays" (Filipinos) and Native Americans were also placed beyond the pale of acceptability.

Rationales for barring interracial marriage are useful to consider, especially since some of them echo so resonantly justifications voiced today by defenders of prohibitions against same-sex marriage. One rationale for barring interracial marriages was that the progeny of such matches would be incapable of procreating. Another was that God did not intend for the races to mix. Another was that colored people, especially blacks, are irredeemably inferior to whites and pose a terrible risk of contamination. The Negrophobic Thomas Dixon spoke for many white supremacists when he warned in his novel The Leopard's Spots that "this Republic can have no future if racial lines are broken and its proud citizenry sinks to the level of a mongrel breed." A single drop of Negro blood, he maintained apocalyptically, "kinks the hair, flattens the nose, then the lip, puts out the light of intellect, and lights the fires of brutal passions."

Although opponents of prohibitions on interracial marriage have waged struggles in many forums (e.g., academia, the churches, journalism), two in particular have been decisive. One is the courtroom. In 1967 in the most aptly titled case in American history--Loving v. The Commonwealth of Virginia--the United States Supreme Court ruled that prohibitions against interracial marriage violated the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. (Although much credit is lavished on the Court's decision, it bears noting that nineteen years earlier, in 1948, the Supreme Court of California had reached the same conclusion in an extraordinary, albeit neglected, opinion by Justice Roger Traynor.) When the federal Supreme Court struck down Jim Crow laws at the marriage altar, it relied on the massive change in public attitudes reflected and nourished by Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" address (1963), the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Voting Rights Act (1965). The Court also relied on the fact that by 1967, only sixteen states, in one region of the country, continued to retain laws prohibiting interracial marriage. This highlights the importance of the second major forum in which opponents of racial bars pressed their struggle: state legislatures. Between World War II and the Civil Rights Revolution, scores of state legislatures repealed bans against interracial marriage, thereby laying the moral, social and political groundwork for the Loving decision. Rarely will any court truly be a pioneer. Much more typically judges act in support of a development that is already well under way.

Unlike opponents of Brown v. Board of Education, antagonists of Loving were unable to mount anything like "massive resistance." They neither rioted, nor promulgated Congressional manifestoes condemning the Court, nor closed down marriage bureaus to prevent the desegregation of matrimony. There was, however, some opposition. In 1970, for example, a judge near Fort McClellan, Alabama, denied on racial grounds a marriage license to a white soldier and his black fiancée. This prompted a lawsuit initiated by the US Justice Department that led to the invalidation of Alabama's statute prohibiting interracial marriage. Yet the Alabama constitutional provision prohibiting the enactment of any law expressly authorizing black-white interracial marriage remained intact until the recent referendum.

That an expression of official opposition to interracial marriage remained a part of the Alabama Constitution for so long reflects the fear and loathing of black-white intimacy that remains a potent force in American culture. Sobering, too, was the closeness of the vote; 40 percent of the Alabama electorate voted against removing the obnoxious prohibition. Still, given the rootedness of segregation at the marriage altar, the ultimate outcome of the referendum should be applauded. The complete erasure of state-sponsored stigmatization of interracial marriage is an important achievement in our struggle for racial justice and harmony.

Blogs

As the military finally tackles its sexual assault problem, our society as a whole needs to do the same.

April 18, 2013

Lawrence Lessig, a friend and mentor of Aaron Swartz, discusses the circumstances of Swartz's death and the government's culpability.

January 15, 2013

Prosecutors suggest similar litigation against media outlets is possible.

January 10, 2013

The ruling brings warehouse workers one step closer to holding Walmart directly responsible for alleged retaliation and wage theft.

January 7, 2013

Workers say Walmart is directly responsible for rampant wage theft and retaliation.

November 30, 2012

An insurance giant battles the Internet.

August 16, 2012

Housing Advocates have filed a complaint against Wells Fargo, accusing the nation’s largest mortgage lender of failing to maintain and market foreclosed properties in black and Hispanic neighborhoods.

April 11, 2012

A pair of rulings suggest there is some hope, but not too much, that courts will prevent disenfranchisement.

March 11, 2012

The 14th amendment has done it again! No wonder right wing radicals want to repeal it.

August 5, 2010

Congressman Jerrold Nadler chairs a hearing to examine the DOJ's prosecution of predatory lending.

April 30, 2010