September 20, 2011
As if President Obama doesn’t have enough on his plate, he’s now being sued by Wayne Perryman, an African-American minister from Mercer Island, Washington, who’s also looking to turn the lawsuit into a class action that includes all African-Americans.
What is Perryman suing over?
The “210 years of racist practices and coverups” of the Democratic Party (also named as a defendant in the suit).
In short, Perryman is suing over the Democratic Party’s policies and government roles that supported slavery, Jim Crow laws, and other laws and policies that discriminated against African-Americans throughout U.S. history.
Many of you may be scratching your heads at this point, since the current Democratic Party is associated with advancing civil rights causes (at least more so than the Republican Party).
A short history overview: the political alignment of both major U.S. parties was starkly different until President Franklin Roosevelt and his policies (most notably The New Deal) polarized the parties into their current configuration (more or less).
Prior to FDR, though, the Democratic Party (predominantly Southern Democrats, whose support was the backbone of the party at the time) backed slavery, segregation, and generally white supremacy (the reasons for which are too complex to get into here).
Anyhow, back to Perryman’s suit.
Just like in 2005 when he filed a similar lawsuit against the Democratic Party, it’s going to fail. And quickly.
The 2005 suit was dismissed for lack of standing: Perryman never alleged a personal injury from the history racism discussed in the suit.
This time’s different, says Perryman.
This time, he’s caught a Democrat – Barack Obama – red-handedly admitting that the historic racism promoted by the Democratic Party can be traced directly to many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today.
Not really, though.
Perryman misquotes Obama’s 2008 race speech, pretty egregiously might I add, to support his argument.
Assuming for argument’s sake that Perryman could sufficiently connect the dots from historic Democrat-supported racism to a present-day personal injury (i.e. had standing), the suit wouldn’t fare much better.
Perryman doesn’t actually assert a valid cause of action.
While he cites two laws as the basis for the lawsuit, neither does him any good.
First, the suit gives the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 as authority.
That law, which gave reparations to Japanese-Americans interned during World War II, doesn’t establish a civil cause of action of any kind (also, Japanese internment and historic racist policies against African-Americans are completely different from a legal standpoint).
The second, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, is a bit more on point, but still useless to the suit: it provides a cause of action where a government official violates an individual’s federally-guaranteed right.
None of the racist policies supported by the Democratic Party as alleged by the lawsuit violated a federally-guaranteed right.
In any case, it’s not as though there are any laws Perryman could sue under: sovereign immunity makes the government untouchable against any and all of his claims.
What is Perryman hoping to win from the suit?
A public apology.
Unfortunately, it isn’t that unassuming.
As an “extension of…the public apology,” Perryman wants the defendants to “provide funding [for] educational projects depicting [all of the historical events and acts] that reflect the true relationship between blacks and Democrats.”
Also, he wants to get paid for all of the work he’s put into the suit for the last five years.
While you can’t say that Perryman isn’t persistent, he has a better chance of getting apologies from the people responsible for those 100+ year-old racist policies than actually winning this suit.