GOP Congressman Booed at Reparations Hearing for Claiming Slavery Reparations ‘Unconstitutional’


Louisiana Republican Congressman Mike Johnson was booed at a congressional hearing for saying that reparations for slavery would be “unconstitutional on their face.”

The House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties held a hearing Wednesday entitled “H.R. 40 and the Path to Restorative Justice,” at which witnesses testified about reparations for slavery. HR 40 is a bill proposes a commission to study reparations.

The hearing took place on Juneteenth, the anniversary of the full abolition of slavery in the United States.

Rep. Johnson, who is the ranking member on the subcommittee, was booed during his opening remarks. After praising the “sincerity” of the witnesses and the supporters of reparations, and discussing the “horrific injustice” of slavery, Johnson also said that reparations would be an “injustice.”

He then began to cite opposition to reparations from various black leaders in the past, as well as some white ones.

“Barack Obama opposed reparations when he ran for president in 2008, and Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders did, as well, eight years later,” Johnson said.

“In addition to all this, here in the Judiciary Committee, we have an obligation to acknowledge that any monetary reparations that might be recommended by the commission created by HR 40 would almost certainly be unconstitutional on their face,” Johnson said, to boos from the spectators.

Subcommittee Chairman Steve Cohen gaveled for order, as Johnson tried to continue.

“The reason for that, wait a minute,” Johnson said, over the boos, “the reason for that is a legal question.”

“See the legal question is the federal government can’t constitutionally provide compensation today to a specific racial group because other members of that group, maybe several generations ago, were discriminated against,” Johnson said, and cited the Supreme Court’s decision in Virginia v. Croson., which he said was decided in 1995.

That case was actually decided in 1989. Adarand Constructors v. Pena was the 1995 case he was thinking of, but then he quoted the decision in a 1972 case and a 1979 case, not the one he cited.

Watch the clip above, via C-SPAN.

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