LYMAN: Here’s Why Your ‘We Deserve Reparations’ Argument Is BS

(Photo by Samuel Corum / AFP) (Photo by SAMUEL CORUM/AFP via Getty Images)

Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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You’ve heard it a thousand times: “reparations are unfair!” “reparations are bad!”

We get it, there’s no place for reparations. But the argument has less to do with the obvious pitfalls of a mass reparations program and far more to do with the very real possibility that reparations are likely downright unlawful.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors moved Tuesday night to accept a draft reparations proposal that would allow black Americans who meet at least two of many requirements to be eligible to qualify for a $5 million payout. Fox News contributor Leo Terrell took aim at the draft, noting that “no legal analysis as to whether or not this is constitutional” has even been heard.

Cue the legal nerd in me!

As it turns out, the Supreme Court and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals have weighed in on very similar issues and unfortunately for liberals desperate to buy the black vote with payouts, the courts don’t seem poised to accept any argument in support of reparations.

The Supreme Court, along with lower courts, has consistently ruled that entitlements, like reparations, are only permissible to remedy discrimination that takes place by the government providing the special treatment.

So for example, the government of 1865 was responsible for slavery and therefore would have been responsible for reparations. The government of 2023 is not responsible for slavery and therefore not responsible for reparations.

Let’s take a look at two prominent cases.

The city of Richmond had a black population of approximately 50% in the 1983, with Richmond officials determining that local, state and national patterns of discrimination created disproportionate access to contracts for black owned businesses. In order to remedy the discrepancy, the city of Richmond set a goal in which 30% of the city’s construction contracts would be given to black owned businesses.

The J.A. Croson Company, which lost its contract because the city mandated 30% of contracts be given to black owned business, sued, and the case, known as City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co., made its way to the Supreme Court. The high court ruled that past societal discrimination alone was not enough to discriminate against white contractors.

“To accept Richmond’s claim that past societal discrimination alone can serve as the basis for rigid racial preferences would be to open the door to competing claims for ‘remedial relief’ for every disadvantaged group.”

“The dream of a Nation of equal citizens in a society where race is irrelevant to personal opportunity and achievement would be lost in a mosaic of shifting preferences based on inherently unmeasurable claims of past wrongs,” the court ruled.

The ruling implicated that the government needed to provide concrete evidence that the discrimination was a direct result of slavery, an issue even modern day reparationists have trouble proving.

But this wasn’t the only time the courts have weighed in on the issue of discrimination. (RELATED: ‘Your People Didn’t Come!’: Whoopi Goldberg Shuts Down Sunny Hostin For Saying Her Family Received No Reparations)

In 1989, a group of plaintiffs known collectively as People Who Care, et al., sued the Rockford Board of Education School District. Racial disparities in educational achievement between white and minority students were found to be the result of the school board’s failure to prevent public schools from becoming all white or all minority. A remedial process, known as the Reorganization Plan, was created which included racial quotas, among other remedies. However, even after the remedies were introduced, educational achievements did not change.

Nearly a decade after the case was a settled, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the school board was in compliance with the remedies and had therefore eradicated their own involvement in explicit discrimination, nullifying the need for further action by the board.

“The Rockford public schools have been desegregated,” the court ruled. “The reality is that until minority students achieve parity of educational achievement with the white students in the Rockford public schools, the plaintiffs will contend that the minority students are victims of the unlawful discrimination of an earlier period in Rockford’s history.”

“Yet it is obvious that other factors besides discrimination contribute to unequal educational attainment.”

Of course you’ll then have some people point to the fact that Japanese Americans kept in interment camps during the Second World War were given reparations and therefore descendants of slavery deserve the same.

The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 compensated more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent who were incarcerated in internment camps during World War II. The legislation gave $20,000 to each surviving victim.

So what’s the difference?

The program was narrowly tailored, simply being of Japanese descent did not qualify individuals to receive relief unlike current plans for reparations which make simply being black a qualification. Those compensated were survivors of the internment camps who had been directly affected by the actions of the government.

Democrats can continue to dangle a carrot in front of black voters, promising financial reward in return for a lever pull, but the reality remains not only do they scarcely deliver results, but the case of reparations is nothing more than a fever dream.

Brianna Lyman is a reporter at the Daily Caller.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.