Law School Discussion

Specific Groups => Minority and Non-Traditional Law Students => Topic started by: ((A))P on December 14, 2006, 07:50:19 AM

Title: Reparations?
Post by: ((A))P on December 14, 2006, 07:50:19 AM
Anyone else agree that Affirmative Action is a pathetic excuse for reparations? Is there any room to argue that affrimative  action, put into effect by whites, deflected the vison and purpose of the Black liberation struggle in this country? Does affirmative action operate to provide oppurtunities for some people of color while keeping the overall conditions of oppression and white privilege in place? In other words the fact that some under-represented minorities receive some preferential consideration is ultimately miniscule in light of the larger structure of inequality. Instead of being drawn into debates on AA what about building a movement to take back what was stolen through slavery and oppression.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: n/a on December 14, 2006, 08:22:55 AM
Throwing out empty rhetoric about opression, the "larger structure of inequality", and taking back what was "stolen" without making any attempt to quantitatively justify any of those comments in any shape or form won't help the situation either.


EDIT:  Im not going to get involved in this topic; I feel strongly about this issue, as Im sure you do as well.  My beliefs are unpopular and misconstrued as somehow bigotted since I don't feel that reparations and AA are ethically appropriate in today's day and age.  There's my .02... I dont feel like getting heated over this or debating it, since nothing either of us does will change anything about the system.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: ((A))P on December 14, 2006, 09:10:42 AM
I'm glad to hear that you arent going to get involved in this topic. I am specifically interested in discussing the implications of AA with those who either recognize the existence of racial oppression or those who have lived through such oppression. There does happen to be plenty of published scholarship which disucsses racism and the legacy of slavery, i would particularly reccomend the short book, "Are Prisons Obsolete?" by Angela Davis, of course anything by well respected scholars Cornell West or Manning Marable would also suffice. I would suggest researching Thaddeus Stevens, a US Congressman who proposed a bill for reparations after the Civil War. With regard to what was stolen, for starters how about simply labor power. In any case i think we are familiar with the mainstream arguments against AA, what i am interested in here is trying to understand why whites initially supported AA (and executed it). and what role AA plays within the larger struggle against oppression. my position is that it operates to absorb the threat of revolt and largescale resistance and ideologically imposes a particular set of values. any serious comments welcome, but i doubt i'll get any.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: redemption on December 14, 2006, 09:14:59 AM
Yes, yes. And the alternative is?
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: ptown on December 14, 2006, 11:13:06 AM
AA is not an attempt at reparations, it is an attempt at integration.  In law school admissions, for instance, minorities are referred to as under-represented.  The intent is to give them a leg up on integration, not to make up for some past transgression.

In order to collect actual reparations, one would have to prove an economic loss.  The claimant would need to identify individuals that were wrongly enslaved, tally their hours of labor, find the prevailing labor rate, subtract off their cost of living (which considering the subsistence nature of the work, would likely barely exceed the cost), and then apply interest until the present day.  Furthermore, the claimant would need to identify the actual owner of the slave and pursue the debt from their family.  All of this is irrelevant of course, because it is a basic principle of law that one cannot be charged retroactively for a an action that was made illegal after the fact.  Therefore, there is no ability to collect against a party for an action that was not considered a tort at the time of commission.  One might say, "well then it is the governments fault for being negligent in providing an adequate framework of laws".  This is of course, also irrelevant since our society and legal system rests on the individual.  The government, even if it were somehow responsible, cannot compensate a nebulous group of society.  Only individuals can collect.  In order to do so, they must prove their case. 

The only part of the original argument that I have discussed here is that of lost labor.  Actions (or inactions) of the government during the civil rights movement are a different issue, since one could argue about damages done by the government negligently not enforcing laws.  Still though, each individual, in order to be compensated monetarily, would need to prove an economic loss.

Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: ((A))P on December 14, 2006, 12:36:50 PM
I'll try to clarify to the best of my ability the issue which i am interested in with regard to AA. When i refered to it as a pathetic excuse for reparations (this is also a partial quote from a song performed by Immortal Technique) i meant to indicate that AA is not worth debating. We (those who acknowledge racial oppression) should disengage from the distraction of debating AA and try to get at something more significant; mainly the function of AA as a state apparatus designed to enforce a racist  and capitalist hegemony. it might be usefull to consider Louis Althusser's concept of the ideological state apparatus (isa). an isa is an apparatus which interpellates individuals as subjects through the use of ideology. In the case of AA it reproduces a certain set of values and material conditions which, in my opinion serve to benefeit only a few under-represented minorities at the expense of a more liberatory and communitarian social justice praxis. In the words of Audre Lorde, "The Masters Tools Will Never Dismanle the Masters House."

Red: I am not sure what it is you agree with, however as to the alternative to AA this is precisely the kind of question we need to ask and take seriously. Theorizing creative alternatives may not be easy but its extremly necessary (if you agree that AA is a form of social control and reaction rather that a tool for liberation).

Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: redemption on December 14, 2006, 01:28:52 PM
How are you going to get whitey to sign on to reparations?

I assume that you know the all of the form arguments for and against, so how are you proposing to break through that impasse?
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: redemption on December 14, 2006, 01:41:28 PM
rbg -- tell us what you think of these two proposals as an alternative to reparations:

http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~wright/Redesigning%20Distribution%20v1.pdf

briefer version of the 2nd proposal:
http://www.prospect.org/print/V11/16/ackerman-b.html
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: ((A))P on December 21, 2006, 10:23:12 PM
rbg -- tell us what you think of these two proposals as an alternative to reparations:

http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~wright/Redesigning%20Distribution%20v1.pdf

briefer version of the 2nd proposal:
http://www.prospect.org/print/V11/16/ackerman-b.html

i honestly didn't have much time to look over in depth the proposals you posted. the first one was really long (sorry). the second involves an $80,000 grant given to every young american as a "birthright of citizenship." The second proposal is not valid in my opinion because for one thing it reifies u.s.economic dominance and the first world privilege of its citizens. Note as well that this proposal does not include permanent residents or "illegal" (no human being is illegal) immigrants. Reparations at least for me is only a point of departure leading to more radical social change. AA in my opinion operates as an apparatus for preventing this change by incorporating very few oppressed people into the power structure. To make us think that if we play by the rules we'll get some chips to cash out at the end of the day. For more on the liberation i am interested in please take the time to view this clip:

http://www.freespeech.org/fscm2/contentviewer.php?content_id=1435

also i respect the tendency to try and come up with proposals that are "practical." however something that i think is crucial is to think about how i think. in other words embrace theory, to paraphrase william v. spanos "think positively the unsayable."
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: redemption on December 22, 2006, 07:44:48 AM
Forget reparations. Its never gonna happen.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: ((A))P on December 22, 2006, 09:11:35 AM
Forget reparations. Its never gonna happen.

i only believe this when Black people say it...
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: MoeSWG on December 22, 2006, 04:15:10 PM
Forget reparations. Its never gonna happen.

i only believe this when Black people say it...

dont you think something is owed though by companies and by the government?
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: ((A))P on December 23, 2006, 06:23:37 AM
of course, only i am quite clear on the fact that those that owe will never willingly pay up... the only way to take reparations is through struggle. thats why i dont care what white folk say about it..they are never going to give up what they stole and admit that not only this economy but modernity as we know it rests on the enslavement of African people and the continual policing of racial hierarchies. but when Black people say there will never be reparations then i have to believe them because we have to make it happen.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: philibusters on December 25, 2006, 09:24:39 PM
Whoa, there are strong sentiments in the original post

I don't think AA  is a form of reparations.  AA has its own complex history that dates bate to the Civil Rights movement, not the Civil War-I think we should interpret it in part based on the the goals that the participants who shaped it had in the 1960's or 1970's when it was formed, and I don't think they intended it to be a form of reparations.  Thats not to say it couldn't function like a form of reparations, which would make it a reparation, but I don't think it does, it only benefits a small percentage, its goals seem more limited, and its recipients don't view it as a form of compensation for past injustices, at least I don't think.

I am not sure I would say modernity is built on the enslavement of African people and the continual policing of racial hierarchies.  I think its safer to say the United States as we know it was shaped tremendously by African enslavement in so many ways, it greatly affecting the building of the economy empire, it influenced the framers and writers of the constitution, both in how they explicitly dealt with slavery in the Constitution, and how they viewed liberty in the abstract, it probably played a powerful role in how class and gender distinctions matured in the America, not only the relationship between African Americans and Whites, but also by the very dimension of slavery, redrew all racial, gender, and class boundaries and I think affected their maturation, after the Civil War the vestiges of slavery continued to play a powerful economic role, think of the migrations north, the geographic and demographics have affected the political landscape, continues to affect the maturation and development of all class, gender, and racial lines today, has greatly affected popular culture and so on.

I am not sure reparations are the best way to achieve social justice, which seems to be rbg goal based on his critique of AA.  Reparations are analogous to legal damages and compensate victims for past loses--which doesn't necessarily equate with social justice which looks towards the future. Compensation for past loses in this case would be very hard to define and any reparation would be like a superficial band-aid from a point of view because past loss is felt on an individual level-its hard to access its affects through 150 years and its superficial because it assumes all loses are the same, same slaves probably suffered more than others and whats more some of their descedants suffer more than others (some are stuck in poverty, some aren't), thus any political compensation would be a one size fits all type thing and would probably end up being more of a moral victory than a economic or true compensation victory.  Plus, it would give its recipients limited value long term.  Money is not necessarily power, especially in small amounts.  On the other hand, AA is actually more long term oriented, lets get minorities into positions of power so they have a say in controlling the infrastructure--usually thats of limited use, because people of power, upper middle class professionals, whether they be african american, asian, white or whatever tend to support the system, but from a long term perspective at least the institutions that distribute wealth and power and in the hands of a diverse racial and gender groups of people. 

Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: John Galt on December 25, 2006, 09:29:19 PM
I love white guilt. Feel free to cut me a check.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: cui bono? on December 27, 2006, 05:54:57 PM
I love white guilt. Feel free to cut me a check.

 :D :D  agreed. lol
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: mugatu on December 27, 2006, 06:29:29 PM
AA is ineffective, but not because it's a poor form of reparations.  AA is ineffeective because it is a band-aid solution instead of solving the problem in general.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: ((A))P on December 28, 2006, 08:56:51 AM
AA is ineffective, but not because it's a poor form of reparations.  AA is ineffeective because it is a band-aid solution instead of solving the problem in general.

i feel the band-aid point, but i dont know if you read my other posts on this thread. what i'm trying to get as is AA as something worse than a band-aid because it was never intended to be any kind of solution. rather it was intended to ccorrupt the Black liberation struggle by absorbing the threat of revolt and resistance outside of capitalism, and by injecting the values of the dominant society. this was reactionary in the face of a communitarian, radical Black nationalist, liberation struggle. if you look at its history AA was created and put into effect by whites, this on its face makes me suspicious of its motives. anyway i think some of what i meant got taken the wrong way although i have been trying to clarify... check out all my posts.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: mugatu on December 28, 2006, 09:16:29 AM
I got it...i just never assumed that AA was any type of reparation.  (Maybe it was trumpeted as such.  If so, I am incorrect.)

On the other hand, seeing AA as disingenuous is most likely off the mark as well, and starts to illustrate a form of conspiracy that I would be hard pressed to accept.  If, however, it could be shown that everyone agreed to start AA and then use AA as an excuse to limit progress in other arenas (lower education), thus limiting the ability of people to take advantage of AA, or succeed after they have taken advantage of AA, then I'll join you in conspiracy.  It is more likely that it is simply a poor program that doesn't really fix the basics of education.

We should have AA: Kindergarten.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: philibusters on December 28, 2006, 09:29:09 AM
AA is ineffective, but not because it's a poor form of reparations.  AA is ineffeective because it is a band-aid solution instead of solving the problem in general.

i feel the band-aid point, but i dont know if you read my other posts on this thread. what i'm trying to get as is AA as something worse than a band-aid because it was never intended to be any kind of solution. rather it was intended to ccorrupt the Black liberation struggle by absorbing the threat of revolt and resistance outside of capitalism, and by injecting the values of the dominant society. this was reactionary in the face of a communitarian, radical Black nationalist, liberation struggle. if you look at its history AA was created and put into effect by whites, this on its face makes me suspicious of its motives. anyway i think some of what i meant got taken the wrong way although i have been trying to clarify... check out all my posts.

Hmm, from that I see how key langauge is.  For example if I said AA was an attempt the Black liberation movement into the mainstream, to intergrate their point of views with more mainstream points of view-that doesn't sound nearly as bad, yet in essence its the same thing just a different spin on it.

Lets face it, the Black Liberation movement represents about 12% of the population theortically, so you will never have a situation like like in South Africa say where the ANC eventually took control of the country.  The Black Liberation movement politically focus is quite narrow and will really only interest a small % of the population, that being the cae what are their alternatives

Alternative 1:  What you seem to adovocate is for the movement to stay ideological pure  This means staying a way from the give and take of politics-say AA.  The good side is the ideology stays pure, the bad side it is seems impractical why have a political reform movement if you really aren't hoping for any changes.  The strength of this position is that it becomes more like an intellectual movement, that gives awareness and strength to its followers and that they form their own practical political reform movement, but even if that is so-eventually you have to compromise

Alternative 2:  Compromise-things like AA are a compromise believe it or not, if it wasn't why would all the white people on here scream bloody murder.  Here ideally and in the abstract, you are giving people from the black liberation positions in the government and other things like universities admissions, that will help them get government positions later, this way they have a voice in governement.  This is somewhat analogous to "no taxation with representation" of the revolutionary war period-or DC trying to get a vote in the house today--note I said somewhat analogous, I know there are differences.  The strength of this is that it incorporates dissidents into the system and avoids strife, if the ideas of people newly incorporated into the government are good, ideally given their position, they will get the ideas into the marketplace of ideas at key points and will even be able to implement some of these ideas themselves.  The negative is that both sides most compromise.

There are of course a lot of other alternatives, some different from the two I listed, some similiar, but not quite the same.

I think the problem with RBG position is that he only looks at AA from the Black Liberation Movements perspective.  Whereas in fact AA was the result of a complex history of interaction between the Civil Right's Movement and the establishment and forced compromise on both sides.  There are conservatives who feel strongly that AA is a wretched idea because it gives legitimacy non-legit ideas, that it panders to a special interest, that it ruins the merit system, and that by incorporating other ideas (like the importance of diversity detracting from "traditional values" like merit and work ethic) it somehow detracts from traditional American values.  Note the last issue of the conservatives is similar to the one put out by the the other side, that by incorporating mainstream values into the movement they have detracted from the movements traditional values.

To me politics is not a tool to achieve ends, but its a fact of human existence.  Just like we need to feed ourselves and clothe ourselves, in the end, we have to work through politics to achieve economic, social, and political goals.  The only alternative that I can think of is war.  And politics just assumes give and take, as much as that bothers idealists on both the conservative and liberal side, I think politics does always require give and take.  This seems especially unfair when one side seems to have the cards stacked in its favor, but like I said, politics is only about give and take. 

Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: prolesurge on December 28, 2006, 09:40:03 AM
AA is ineffective, but not because it's a poor form of reparations.  AA is ineffeective because it is a band-aid solution instead of solving the problem in general.

Agreed. Unfortunately, I'm one of the pessimists who believes that the solution to "the problem in general" is considered repugnant by the majority of Americans.

Equitable and fair distribution of resources (both monetary and otherwise) for all school districts, along with a move to address and rectify economic policies and ideologies that have lead to the creation of segregated communities (what most people derisively address as "ghettoes", etc) and some sort of magic wand to get rid of racist ideas would do the trick. Alas, all one has to do is look at the northern response to desegregation (Detroit, Boston),  the frustrating existence of the East Palo Alto School District , and the general distaste for any policies that threaten the imaginary cloud of laissez-faire that this country clings to so adamantly and yet so selectively.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: mugatu on December 28, 2006, 09:44:10 AM
AA is ineffective, but not because it's a poor form of reparations.  AA is ineffeective because it is a band-aid solution instead of solving the problem in general.

Agreed. Unfortunately, I'm one of the pessimists who believes that the solution to "the problem in general" is considered repugnant by the majority of Americans.

Equitable and fair distribution of resources (both monetary and otherwise) for all school districts, along with a move to address and rectify economic policies and ideologies that have lead to the creation of segregated communities (what most people derisively address as "ghettoes", etc) and some sort of magic wand to get rid of racist ideas would do the trick. Alas, all one has to do is look at the northern response to desegregation (Detroit, Boston),  the frustrating existence of the East Palo Alto School District , and the general distaste for any policies that threaten the imaginary cloud of laissez-faire that this country clings to so adamantly and yet so selectively.

Yes, that is what needs to be done.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: redemption on December 28, 2006, 10:36:19 AM
To me politics is not a tool  to achieve ends, but its a fact of human existence.  Just like we need to feed ourselves and clothe ourselves, in the end, we have to work through politics to achieve economic, social, and political goals. 

As always, phili, you manage to confuse me like no other poster can. Welcome back.  :)
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: philibusters on December 28, 2006, 10:39:59 AM
AA is ineffective, but not because it's a poor form of reparations.  AA is ineffeective because it is a band-aid solution instead of solving the problem in general.

Agreed. Unfortunately, I'm one of the pessimists who believes that the solution to "the problem in general" is considered repugnant by the majority of Americans.

Equitable and fair distribution of resources (both monetary and otherwise) for all school districts, along with a move to address and rectify economic policies and ideologies that have lead to the creation of segregated communities (what most people derisively address as "ghettoes", etc) and some sort of magic wand to get rid of racist ideas would do the trick. Alas, all one has to do is look at the northern response to desegregation (Detroit, Boston),  the frustrating existence of the East Palo Alto School District , and the general distaste for any policies that threaten the imaginary cloud of laissez-faire that this country clings to so adamantly and yet so selectively.

But you need to think beyond that.  That sounds great.  But how and what are you willing to give.  How do you reallocate resources (through taxes, progressive taxes maybe, but that only deals with economic resources, so thats not a sufficient solution along).  I think you will find its very very very hard to come up with a system that redistributes resources in a way that furthers social justice.

 Furthermore, you want to distribute resources efficiently, how do you redistribute them in a way that is efficent, yet fair.  It seems like you would have to have a thourgh investigation of every person to decide what amount of resource they deserve, but clearly the costs of such investigations would wipe out all in the first plac leaving nothing to be distributed.  For example, if you said every person was entitled to a certain amount of resources, would that encourage efficient behavior, for example a mother who wanted to keep having children could feel assured each child would be looked after, and so men could also rationalize that they could father as many children and they wanted with as many women as they wanted and each child would be look after, however, using resources, however exemplary from a humanity perspective, on those children is not good a good investment, they are being raised in single parent home, with a lot of brothers and sisters and thus are not being given much parental resources of time and love, merely giving them food and clothes on their back and a decent school to go to realistically isn't a good investment (as evidenced by most children of middle class families that are dysfunctional do poorly in school, don't go to college, et cetera), with investments like those, resources dry up and soon there is less for everybody.  So not only do you need first accomplish the impossible task of coming up with a system to collect the resources, not you must balance efficient and humanitarian uses of them. 

To make it that much more complex how about weighing the values of such a redistribution against the so called traditional values (I use the term tradtional values somewhat generally, really it is a term that can be used to justify anything).  Traditional values say those that are smart and work hard deserve the fruits of the labor, basic John Locke.  Its not only an economic right, but Locke thought it was a moral right.  Thus according to that value it would be morally repugant to take from smart hardworking people what they have collected with the sweat of their brows.  To make this point strongest, imagine a  poor black kid, raised in poor conditions, who through hard work and ingenunity became successful, got married and two nice children, he is now economically secure, possibly even wealthy, according to Locke it would be morally repugnant to take the resources he earned through merit and hard work and redistribute it to others.  There are other traditonal values that conflict with such a redistribution.

I agree with your principal, my point is that principals are easy to agree on, details are hard to work out, basically a lot of compromise is necessarily.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: mugatu on December 28, 2006, 10:44:45 AM
i've yet to be convinced this is anything than an economic problem.  what makes it otherwise?
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: philibusters on December 28, 2006, 10:56:55 AM
To me politics is not a tool  to achieve ends, but its a fact of human existence.  Just like we need to feed ourselves and clothe ourselves, in the end, we have to work through politics to achieve economic, social, and political goals.

As always, phili, you manage to confuse me like no other poster can. Welcome back.  :)

I meant to say, if you want to achieve social, economic, or political change you have to either use politics or go to war.  Thus, while politics may not always result in fair results, and annoy idealists, its important to remember the alternative-violence.  Since, most people would like to avoid violence at all costs, thats usually not a viable option, so far the most part, we have to accept politics and its give and take, as imperfect as it. 
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: ((A))P on December 29, 2006, 07:40:28 AM

[/quote]

I meant to say, if you want to achieve social, economic, or political change you have to either use politics or go to war.  Thus, while politics may not always result in fair results, and annoy idealists, its important to remember the alternative-violence.  Since, most people would like to avoid violence at all costs, thats usually not a viable option, so far the most part, we have to accept politics and its give and take, as imperfect as it. 
[/quote]


i have a problem with this because it seems to elide the reality of violence in everyday life faced by communities of color, the internally colonized peoples of north america, as well as the external violence which emanates from the metropoles of global capitalism. so violence may be seen as an alternative to "legitimate" politics only if you ignore the massive violence inherent in the existing political system. we cannot be expected to put faith in the politicians and the political system which is killing our communities. through this lens our violent revolt can only be construed as self defense, and is an integral component of the liberation struggle.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: redemption on December 29, 2006, 07:47:21 AM
lol
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: philibusters on January 01, 2007, 08:41:48 PM
I meant to say, if you want to achieve social, economic, or political change you have to either use politics or go to war.  Thus, while politics may not always result in fair results, and annoy idealists, its important to remember the alternative-violence.  Since, most people would like to avoid violence at all costs, thats usually not a viable option, so far the most part, we have to accept politics and its give and take, as imperfect as it. 
i have a problem with this because it seems to elide the reality of violence in everyday life faced by communities of color, the internally colonized peoples of north america, as well as the external violence which emanates from the metropoles of global capitalism. so violence may be seen as an alternative to "legitimate" politics only if you ignore the massive violence inherent in the existing political system. we cannot be expected to put faith in the politicians and the political system which is killing our communities. through this lens our violent revolt can only be construed as self defense, and is an integral component of the liberation struggle.

Well, for those who cannot take part of the political processes, there may be no alternatives but violence. That would not be immoral. However, for a society like ours (United States), I would say use of violence is immoral in general for the use of politics.

By my standards, the American Revolution was immoral for example though where the colonies were part of a political system and could take part in the political processes.

I understand sometimes though, that some groups do feel alienated and disfranchised even the United States.  The feel their goals and aspirations are after-thoughts at best to those in power and they do not have the power to push the goals onto the agendas of those in power.  But I think that confuses with being at a political disadvantage with not being able to participate in political processes. 
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: prolesurge on January 01, 2007, 09:18:03 PM
This is all sorts of confusing.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: philibusters on January 02, 2007, 10:21:29 PM
Not sure what you are confused by, if was my post in response to you, then the main point, was that pinpointing the values to base a redistrubution of resources on is very hard, and even if you could achieve that, it would be very hard to have mechanisms to do the actual redistributing.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: Festus on March 08, 2007, 10:57:02 AM
Reparations cannot be contemplated without first assesing two things.  First who is the responsible party or parties, and secondly what is the amount of damages.

Firat the responsible party - African slaves came from Africa, where they were caught and sold by Africans.  The initial and de-facto responsible party becomes the Africans who caught them and sold them into slavery.  Therefore, the decendents of those persons having benefited from their estates should be the responsible party.

Second the amount of damages. - We must compute the difference in economic status of the decendeants of those original slaves. I.E. how much better or worse off are they than they would be if they had been left alone and never aprehended and sold into slavery.  Using rough numbers, the Per Capita GDP of the US is $43,500 for 2006.  The per capita GDP for the African continent was $1,968 for 2003.  PLease excuse the disparity in years, but it was the quickest data I could get my hands on. 

Based on the above facts, I see a reasonable amount of damages computed at the difference of the 2 GDP's assesed for every year of the person's life shold be paid be the decendents of the original slaves to the decendants of their original captors as payment for their unexpected and wholly unearned economic benefit from their residence in the US.  IF this was deemed unacceptable, any person so choosing could be repatriated to their ancestors country of origin after they had paid in to the fund an appropriate amount to account for the superior education, health care, nutrition, and freedom from persecution that they have enjoyed in the US that they would not have enjoyed in their ancestor's country of origin.

As ridiculous as this sounds, it is no more ridiculous than the idea that people who have never owned a slave should pay reparations to people who have never been one. Notwithstanding the fact that the vast majority of the families in the US in 1860 did not own slaves, and that fact that the vast majority of those who did were economically ruined during the reconstruction era.  In effect the vast majority of the treasure acumulated by most of the slave owners has been redistributed already by the the government which freed those slaves.

I think the average african slave was probably much worse off than his captor, but the average descendant of that slave is much better off than the average descendant of his captor.  But if you're not happy with your position here in the US, feel free to go to Africa, forget how to read, get AIDS, and watch your family get chopped to pieces with a machete in some racial dispute in one of the most racially violent countries in the world.

I really wish that some people who wine about how their great-great-great-grandaddy was a slave could go to Africa and see the misery they would be living in if he hadn't been.  Slavery was (and is) a horrible crime against nature.  There is no excuse for what was done, but it must be remebered who it was that did it, and it must be acknowledged that at least in the case of the slaves brought ot the United States, their descendants are infinitely better off than they would have been otherwise.

Some folks just don't know how good they've got it.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: vidhartha on March 08, 2007, 11:56:47 AM
Reparations cannot be contemplated without first assesing two things.  First who is the responsible party or parties, and secondly what is the amount of damages.

Firat the responsible party - African slaves came from Africa, where they were caught and sold by Africans.  The initial and de-facto responsible party becomes the Africans who caught them and sold them into slavery.  Therefore, the decendents of those persons having benefited from their estates should be the responsible party.

Second the amount of damages. - We must compute the difference in economic status of the decendeants of those original slaves. I.E. how much better or worse off are they than they would be if they had been left alone and never aprehended and sold into slavery.  Using rough numbers, the Per Capita GDP of the US is $43,500 for 2006.  The per capita GDP for the African continent was $1,968 for 2003.  PLease excuse the disparity in years, but it was the quickest data I could get my hands on. 

Based on the above facts, I see a reasonable amount of damages computed at the difference of the 2 GDP's assesed for every year of the person's life shold be paid be the decendents of the original slaves to the decendants of their original captors as payment for their unexpected and wholly unearned economic benefit from their residence in the US.  IF this was deemed unacceptable, any person so choosing could be repatriated to their ancestors country of origin after they had paid in to the fund an appropriate amount to account for the superior education, health care, nutrition, and freedom from persecution that they have enjoyed in the US that they would not have enjoyed in their ancestor's country of origin.

As ridiculous as this sounds, it is no more ridiculous than the idea that people who have never owned a slave should pay reparations to people who have never been one. Notwithstanding the fact that the vast majority of the families in the US in 1860 did not own slaves, and that fact that the vast majority of those who did were economically ruined during the reconstruction era.  In effect the vast majority of the treasure acumulated by most of the slave owners has been redistributed already by the the government which freed those slaves.

I think the average african slave was probably much worse off than his captor, but the average descendant of that slave is much better off than the average descendant of his captor.  But if you're not happy with your position here in the US, feel free to go to Africa, forget how to read, get AIDS, and watch your family get chopped to pieces with a machete in some racial dispute in one of the most racially violent countries in the world.

I really wish that some people who wine about how their great-great-great-grandaddy was a slave could go to Africa and see the misery they would be living in if he hadn't been.  Slavery was (and is) a horrible crime against nature.  There is no excuse for what was done, but it must be remebered who it was that did it, and it must be acknowledged that at least in the case of the slaves brought ot the United States, their descendants are infinitely better off than they would have been otherwise.

Some folks just don't know how good they've got it.

this is all based on the fact that things would be the same now in Africa if we hadn't taken 2 million of their population right?  thats one BIG assumption...
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: Festus on March 09, 2007, 08:05:23 AM
True,  That doesn't take into account the difference that 2 million extra mouths would have made in the various famines, or the strain that two million more people would have put on their oh so robust health care infrastructure.  I'm sure that two million more able bodied men wouldn't have effected the HIV situation either.  Of course adding two million more able bodied men to the losing side wouldn't prolong the inter tribal warfare that resulted in most of the captives that were sold into slavery. 

Yeah,  You really got me on that one.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: philibusters on March 31, 2007, 06:01:18 PM
Actually the standard of living in a lot of parts of Africa was higher before contact with Europeans than now.  A few reasons:

1.  Population was low, new technology allowed and gave incentives to have more babies than social systems would like.

2.  THE HUGE ONE- Politics and power were fairly stable before European contact, perfectly stable of course not, but fairly stable.  Almost all the famines you see today take place in countries with civil wars, Sudan and Somalia for example are the two recent biggies and both famines are attributeable almost solely to civil wars, rainfall was normal for both those countries, however, civil war involves huge armies, doing nothing productive who live off of raiding and pillaging others, it means abducting boys to become soliders and women getting raped, it means boys go off to war and their labor is lost, it means there is no incentive to plant crops cause if you have any success soldiers will come and take away your food, its better to just get in some doses from western huminiatrian organizations cause its harder to be robbed if you can quickly dispose of valuables (eating it).  Why is the political situation so abysmal, probably dates back to 50 years ago, when Europeans pretty much as a whole cut their loses in Africa and ran.  Economic systems had changed, colonies drained more than they gave, and it would be much more effective to free trade with Africa than to have to administer and deal with problems in Africa which is expensive.  To be honest, Europeans, the little they were willing to do to work with Africans to make the transition smooth, Africans wanted independence now, once the fever got a hold of them they didn't want anything to do with Europeans and pushed what little help Europeans were willing to give away (which in hindsight probably was a mistake).  And what you got were political voids, power voids, and what has happened is the predictable free for all, you might get a good regime, following by a bad regime, there were no political or social institutions to temper the regimes (which may mean tempering good regimes, but the all key is that institutions such as in the U.S. also temper bad regimes) and Africa as is was the result... a continent that despite being in the 21st century probably has a lower standard of living than they did 600 years ago.

Time stabilizes power voids, given time, new institutions will develop  (the pre-European institutions were destroyed-Think of the book by Achebe Things Fall Apart, assigned in lots of high schools and colleges were an African village is torn apart from European contact and traditions, cultures, and institutions were destroyed), the people who exercise power will be tempered in how they act by culture and institutions, and with stability they will eventually compete on an equal basis with the rest of the world and all the crap about African Americans being better off than Africans will sound silly.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: attic4fp on March 31, 2007, 06:21:00 PM
I'd like to get back to the original questions.  My answer to it is:

No, not in and of itself.  But it's part of the greater process by which the movement for reperations may be derailed, further marginalzied, etc.

I think one obstacle to the call for reperations is the rise of some percentage of the African-American population into the Upper-Middle Professional classes and especially into positions of mainstream political power.  The call for reperations (putting aside, for the moment, the debate over whether that call is just) is destablizing.  How could it not be? It is socially destablizing to whites because it makes them feel guilty and demands that they change the status quo.  If seriously considered or implemented, such a massive transfer of wealth would be economically and poltically destablizing (again, for the moment I won't address whether or not that is good).

The more African-Americans end up in positions of power (politics, the professions, the upper-middle class in general), the greater incentive some African-American leaders (now in main-stream, white-sanctioned positions of power) have to eschew such destablizing rehtoric/policy proposals.

When the status-quo is good to you, you're gonna be good to the status-quo.  Thus, the better things get for even a small portion of the African-American community, the less we'll see demands for reperations made by powerful black leaders on behalf of the entire community.

So, to answer the question, I think AA facilitates a process that leads the black community (as represented by its "mainstream" leaders) to stop calling for reperations.

Oh, and God bless Thaddeus Stevens.  That man was a wonderful American.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: attic4fp on March 31, 2007, 06:25:00 PM
For those who write off reparations as a ridiculous suggestion, how would you answer the following question:

In 1944, Congress passed a bill giving $100,000 to your grandmother as an award for being wonderful.  FDR vetoed it, but it passed over his veto because everyone loved your grandmother so much.  Then the local government officials in charge of paying your grandmother refused to do so.  FDR and later Truman, who were against the gift in the first place, didn't force them to do so.
Now, it's 2007
Does the government:

A) not owe your grandmother or her family any money?
B) owe your grandmother or her family money?
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: philibusters on March 31, 2007, 06:40:19 PM
For those who write off reparations as a ridiculous suggestion, how would you answer the following question:

In 1944, Congress passed a bill giving $100,000 to your grandmother as an award for being wonderful.  FDR vetoed it, but it passed over his veto because everyone loved your grandmother so much.  Then the local government officials in charge of paying your grandmother refused to do so.  FDR and later Truman, who were against the gift in the first place, didn't force them to do so.
Now, it's 2007
Does the government:

A) not owe your grandmother or her family any money?
B) owe your grandmother or her family money?

That hypo loses its effect cause it sounds fake, maybe add a couple facts, like they owe her 100,000 dollars because they seized a family estate and home to build a dam, but never paid the money.  The damn is still in use, your grandmother never got any money and to complicate things and make the analogy more similar, your grandmother has since died, your family relocated, and you are now 35 with a wife and kids.  And to make the analogy even more similar to reparations the 100 gran would have to be split with 22 other people, so really you'd get 4,900. 

That might be similar to reparations, 5 gran is a lot of money and people will say and complain and argue for it, but they probably won't do too much, after all its only 5 gran and is it worth disrupting your life with your wife and kids (you are middle class too, so you don't absolutley need the money) for 5 gran.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: attic4fp on March 31, 2007, 11:04:09 PM
absolutely. it is certainly more complicated. your analogy may be closer to the true situation.  i'm not necesarily suggesting reperations are a wonderful idea, either.  just a hypothetical for those (incl some posters in this thread) who view reperations as a crazy, extremist idea unworthy of serious contemplation.  i was trying to keep it simple.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: LegalMatters on April 03, 2007, 08:24:09 AM
I'll find the information and post it here but I distinctly recall the Israeli government sued the Egyptian government for reparations of slavery (provable beyond the Bible) from hundreds of years ago. The lawsuit was either thrown out or the Israelis lost, I can't remember which, exactly.

I'm not a 1L yet but I can see the logistical nightmare of reparations. There's the aspect of paying reparations to African-Americans living in the United States but what about their now distant families in African nations who lost those family members? Wouldn't they also have a legal claim for reparations for the loss of a provider?
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: attic4fp on April 03, 2007, 05:55:31 PM
I'm no expert on this, but I think that there are several different injuries for which African-Americans could conceivably claim damages.  Many of them do not hinge just on slavery or at all on slavery.  Here are a few.

1) Although not illegal, slavery was such a gross violation of other, basic tennets of American government that we should regard it as having been such.  (this might be the kind of injuries for which israelis were claiming damages)

2) The slave trade was illegal after a certain point, but a signficant number of slaves were imported anyway.  Thus, the obvious injuries of slavery, inflicted in an illegal act, creating obvious grounds for claiming damages (how to distinguish "legally" imported slaves from "illegally" imported ones is the problem, here)

3) Failure of the federal government to implement the laws passed by the Republican Congress during Reconstruction.  The Johnson administration intentionally and maliciously did not enforce congressional legislation that required effective transfers of wealth from the government to freed slaves.  This is a major and very sound claim, in my opinion, since freed slaves were deprived of both explicit transfers and future earning power.  The Johnson administration intentionally did harm to African-Americans.

4) Post-Reconstruction failure of the Federal Government to properly enforce the Civil Rights Amendments.  Obvious one here as well.  Up until the mid to late 1950s, Congress, the executive branch, and the courts conspired to deprive black American citizens of rights granted to them by the Constitution as ammended.  This inflicted severe economic and personal injuries. 
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: philibusters on April 03, 2007, 07:04:46 PM
I'm no expert on this, but I think that there are several different injuries for which African-Americans could conceivably claim damages.  Many of them do not hinge just on slavery or at all on slavery.  Here are a few.

1) Although not illegal, slavery was such a gross violation of other, basic tennets of American government that we should regard it as having been such.  (this might be the kind of injuries for which israelis were claiming damages)

2) The slave trade was illegal after a certain point, but a signficant number of slaves were imported anyway.  Thus, the obvious injuries of slavery, inflicted in an illegal act, creating obvious grounds for claiming damages (how to distinguish "legally" imported slaves from "illegally" imported ones is the problem, here)

3) Failure of the federal government to implement the laws passed by the Republican Congress during Reconstruction.  The Johnson administration intentionally and maliciously did not enforce congressional legislation that required effective transfers of wealth from the government to freed slaves.  This is a major and very sound claim, in my opinion, since freed slaves were deprived of both explicit transfers and future earning power.  The Johnson administration intentionally did harm to African-Americans.

4) Post-Reconstruction failure of the Federal Government to properly enforce the Civil Rights Amendments.  Obvious one here as well.  Up until the mid to late 1950s, Congress, the executive branch, and the courts conspired to deprive black American citizens of rights granted to them by the Constitution as ammended.  This inflicted severe economic and personal injuries. 

Yikes, you are thinking too much like a lawyer.  Reparations would be a political thing, maybe a moral thing also, but not so much a legal thing, so it doesn't matter that slavery was legal, it was still immoral and thats why they would pay reparations, not for breaking the law, but for enslaving people-also politically, socially, and morally we tied our tied to our ancestors actions-legally you cannot claim damages for the actions of people's ancestors.   Granted somebody mentioned that the Israeli government sued the Egyptian government, but that sounds more like propaganda, I can't imagine what legal theory they did that on.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: attic4fp on April 03, 2007, 07:15:44 PM
I think politically and morally, a majority non-black electorate would be unlikely to authroize political reparations on any significant scale.

But I think there exist several potentially valid legal arguments in favor of reparations (see my last post).

Thus, for me the more interesting questions about reparations are the legal ones. 

No Congress, no matter how (progressive/guilt-ridden, take your pick) is ever going to transfer the kind of money we're talking about from the majority of its constituents to a relatively small minority. 

A court, on the other hand....
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: philibusters on April 03, 2007, 08:41:07 PM
I'm no expert on this, but I think that there are several different injuries for which African-Americans could conceivably claim damages.  Many of them do not hinge just on slavery or at all on slavery.  Here are a few.

1) Although not illegal, slavery was such a gross violation of other, basic tennets of American government that we should regard it as having been such.  (this might be the kind of injuries for which israelis were claiming damages)

2) The slave trade was illegal after a certain point, but a signficant number of slaves were imported anyway.  Thus, the obvious injuries of slavery, inflicted in an illegal act, creating obvious grounds for claiming damages (how to distinguish "legally" imported slaves from "illegally" imported ones is the problem, here)

3) Failure of the federal government to implement the laws passed by the Republican Congress during Reconstruction.  The Johnson administration intentionally and maliciously did not enforce congressional legislation that required effective transfers of wealth from the government to freed slaves.  This is a major and very sound claim, in my opinion, since freed slaves were deprived of both explicit transfers and future earning power.  The Johnson administration intentionally did harm to African-Americans.

4) Post-Reconstruction failure of the Federal Government to properly enforce the Civil Rights Amendments.  Obvious one here as well.  Up until the mid to late 1950s, Congress, the executive branch, and the courts conspired to deprive black American citizens of rights granted to them by the Constitution as ammended.  This inflicted severe economic and personal injuries. 

Yikes, you are thinking too much like a lawyer.  Reparations would be a political thing, maybe a moral thing also, but not so much a legal thing, so it doesn't matter that slavery was legal, it was still immoral and thats why they would pay reparations, not for breaking the law, but for enslaving people-also politically, socially, and morally we tied our tied to our ancestors actions-legally you cannot claim damages for the actions of people's ancestors.   Granted somebody mentioned that the Israeli government sued the Egyptian government, but that sounds more like propaganda, I can't imagine what legal theory they did that on.

A few ideas:

Breach of contract?
40 acres and a mule and whatnot, which was promised in writing and then voided by the President.  I'm not a law student yet, but I imagine the wholesale re-appropriation of all of those acres and all of those mules by the government might have been a takings violation. You'd have to find some way around the statute of limitations, I imagine, but Congress could step in and help that along the way once a lawsuit was filed.  Doing a bit of Googling also reveals that the statute of limitations is called into question if you've got fraudulent concealment.  I don't know what the standards are for that, but there's no way anybody could have brought a claim like this back during Reconstruction, so you might be able to gain some momentum on the idea that the legal sands of time haven't exactly been flowing through the hourglass. 

You obviously have the huge problem of defining the plaintiffs and the defendants, but there have been similar cases involving slave reparations from World War II and more recent cases that have faced similar hurdles until the political momentum was sufficient to push things along. 

One of the legal precedents that would be the main obstacle would be Cato v. United States, in which the 9th circuit basically held its hands in the air and said they couldn't find a legal leg to stand on for the reparations claim being brought.  But I also think people tend to forget that you don't need an iron-clad legal rationale in order to bring and win a suit like this, you need a plausible legal explanation and a shitton of political momentum. 

Let me also add that I don't think there's any chance in hell the political will exists to support any of what I'm blabbering about above, but I think the hypothetical issues are really interesting ones to consider.

I have to strongly disagree with this post, you definitely need a legal theory to win in courts.  This is not the court reviewing a government reparation scheme, you guys are actually asking the courts to institute a reparation scheme themselves and they just don't have the power to that.  The judicial role is to settle current disputes, not legislate and there is no way that any court in this country would ever issue reparations based on race.

As for your theories


1) Although not illegal, slavery was such a gross violation of other, basic tennets of American government that we should regard it as having been such.  (this might be the kind of injuries for which israelis were claiming damages)

Thats a moral argument, not a legal one.  You can't sue somebody for being a bad person.  Furthermore, all those who would be able to bring this claim are dead as our all former slave owners.  There is no controversy and courts have no jurisdiction if there is no controversy, not only can the courts not reward reparations, they cannot even hear that case.


2) The slave trade was illegal after a certain point, but a signficant number of slaves were imported anyway.  Thus, the obvious injuries of slavery, inflicted in an illegal act, creating obvious grounds for claiming damages (how to distinguish "legally" imported slaves from "illegally" imported ones is the problem, here)

If somebody commits an illegal act they face criminal violations, the government does give the relatives of murder victims for example any money, and while the court can fine criminal offenders for their offense if authorized by statute, the criminal offenders are all dead.  Again no current controversy, court has no jurisdiction to hear these claims.


3) Failure of the federal government to implement the laws passed by the Republican Congress during Reconstruction.  The Johnson administration intentionally and maliciously did not enforce congressional legislation that required effective transfers of wealth from the government to freed slaves.  This is a major and very sound claim, in my opinion, since freed slaves were deprived of both explicit transfers and future earning power.  The Johnson administration intentionally did harm to African-Americans.

The government doesn't enforce the law all the time.  Again the rights would be specific to aggrieved partys, plus you have no constitutional right to sue the government, and right to sue them is statutorily granted, not to mention when Congress does grant citizens the right to sue in certain circumstances the remedy is almost always enforcement of the law, not reparations, the courts cannot order the government to do anything but what the law compels them to do, unless there is a law authorizing reparations, thats not a possible remedy.

4) Post-Reconstruction failure of the Federal Government to properly enforce the Civil Rights Amendments.  Obvious one here as well.  Up until the mid to late 1950s, Congress, the executive branch, and the courts conspired to deprive black American citizens of rights granted to them by the Constitution as amended.  This inflicted severe economic and personal injuries.

Hmm, the Civil Rights Amendments, fat chance, the were many cases dealing with this and the court made many decisions interpreting those amendments.  For example the 14th amendment did not mean what it means now, 100 years ago.  Again even if somehow you got this case and you some how won, at least on this one you have current living parties who have a controversy so the courts could have jurisdiction, and the government by statute let you sue them, reparations would not be a type of remedy the court has the power to grant, they would only have the power to make the government respect the constitutional rights of the affected parties in the future.

If this was an actual case, it would be decided by the supreme court and the supreme court could care less about Cato or whatever 9th circuit there was and they can do whatever they wanted.  Only the 9th circuit and the district courts under them are bound by 9th circuit decisions.

Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: attic4fp on April 03, 2007, 08:49:47 PM
I'm no expert on this, but I think that there are several different injuries for which African-Americans could conceivably claim damages.  Many of them do not hinge just on slavery or at all on slavery.  Here are a few.

1) Although not illegal, slavery was such a gross violation of other, basic tennets of American government that we should regard it as having been such.  (this might be the kind of injuries for which israelis were claiming damages)

2) The slave trade was illegal after a certain point, but a signficant number of slaves were imported anyway.  Thus, the obvious injuries of slavery, inflicted in an illegal act, creating obvious grounds for claiming damages (how to distinguish "legally" imported slaves from "illegally" imported ones is the problem, here)

3) Failure of the federal government to implement the laws passed by the Republican Congress during Reconstruction.  The Johnson administration intentionally and maliciously did not enforce congressional legislation that required effective transfers of wealth from the government to freed slaves.  This is a major and very sound claim, in my opinion, since freed slaves were deprived of both explicit transfers and future earning power.  The Johnson administration intentionally did harm to African-Americans.

4) Post-Reconstruction failure of the Federal Government to properly enforce the Civil Rights Amendments.  Obvious one here as well.  Up until the mid to late 1950s, Congress, the executive branch, and the courts conspired to deprive black American citizens of rights granted to them by the Constitution as ammended.  This inflicted severe economic and personal injuries. 

Yikes, you are thinking too much like a lawyer.  Reparations would be a political thing, maybe a moral thing also, but not so much a legal thing, so it doesn't matter that slavery was legal, it was still immoral and thats why they would pay reparations, not for breaking the law, but for enslaving people-also politically, socially, and morally we tied our tied to our ancestors actions-legally you cannot claim damages for the actions of people's ancestors.   Granted somebody mentioned that the Israeli government sued the Egyptian government, but that sounds more like propaganda, I can't imagine what legal theory they did that on.

A few ideas:

Breach of contract?
40 acres and a mule and whatnot, which was promised in writing and then voided by the President.  I'm not a law student yet, but I imagine the wholesale re-appropriation of all of those acres and all of those mules by the government might have been a takings violation. You'd have to find some way around the statute of limitations, I imagine, but Congress could step in and help that along the way once a lawsuit was filed.  Doing a bit of Googling also reveals that the statute of limitations is called into question if you've got fraudulent concealment.  I don't know what the standards are for that, but there's no way anybody could have brought a claim like this back during Reconstruction, so you might be able to gain some momentum on the idea that the legal sands of time haven't exactly been flowing through the hourglass. 

You obviously have the huge problem of defining the plaintiffs and the defendants, but there have been similar cases involving slave reparations from World War II and more recent cases that have faced similar hurdles until the political momentum was sufficient to push things along. 

One of the legal precedents that would be the main obstacle would be Cato v. United States, in which the 9th circuit basically held its hands in the air and said they couldn't find a legal leg to stand on for the reparations claim being brought.  But I also think people tend to forget that you don't need an iron-clad legal rationale in order to bring and win a suit like this, you need a plausible legal explanation and a shitton of political momentum. 

Let me also add that I don't think there's any chance in hell the political will exists to support any of what I'm blabbering about above, but I think the hypothetical issues are really interesting ones to consider.

I have to strongly disagree with this post, you definitely need a legal theory to win in courts.  This is not the court reviewing a government reparation scheme, you guys are actually asking the courts to institute a reparation scheme themselves and they just don't have the power to that.  The judicial role is to settle current disputes, not legislate and there is no way that any court in this country would ever issue reparations based on race.

As for your theories


1) Although not illegal, slavery was such a gross violation of other, basic tennets of American government that we should regard it as having been such.  (this might be the kind of injuries for which israelis were claiming damages)

Thats a moral argument, not a legal one.  You can't sue somebody for being a bad person.  Furthermore, all those who would be able to bring this claim are dead as our all former slave owners.  There is no controversy and courts have no jurisdiction if there is no controversy, not only can the courts not reward reparations, they cannot even hear that case.


2) The slave trade was illegal after a certain point, but a signficant number of slaves were imported anyway.  Thus, the obvious injuries of slavery, inflicted in an illegal act, creating obvious grounds for claiming damages (how to distinguish "legally" imported slaves from "illegally" imported ones is the problem, here)

If somebody commits an illegal act they face criminal violations, the government does give the relatives of murder victims for example any money, and while the court can fine criminal offenders for their offense if authorized by statute, the criminal offenders are all dead.  Again no current controversy, court has no jurisdiction to hear these claims.


3) Failure of the federal government to implement the laws passed by the Republican Congress during Reconstruction.  The Johnson administration intentionally and maliciously did not enforce congressional legislation that required effective transfers of wealth from the government to freed slaves.  This is a major and very sound claim, in my opinion, since freed slaves were deprived of both explicit transfers and future earning power.  The Johnson administration intentionally did harm to African-Americans.

The government doesn't enforce the law all the time.  Again the rights would be specific to aggrieved partys, plus you have no constitutional right to sue the government, and right to sue them is statutorily granted, not to mention when Congress does grant citizens the right to sue in certain circumstances the remedy is almost always enforcement of the law, not reparations, the courts cannot order the government to do anything but what the law compels them to do, unless there is a law authorizing reparations, thats not a possible remedy.
4) Post-Reconstruction failure of the Federal Government to properly enforce the Civil Rights Amendments.  Obvious one here as well.  Up until the mid to late 1950s, Congress, the executive branch, and the courts conspired to deprive black American citizens of rights granted to them by the Constitution as amended.  This inflicted severe economic and personal injuries.

Hmm, the Civil Rights Amendments, fat chance, the were many cases dealing with this and the court made many decisions interpreting those amendments.  For example the 14th amendment did not mean what it means now, 100 years ago.  Again even if somehow you got this case and you some how won, at least on this one you have current living parties who have a controversy so the courts could have jurisdiction, and the government by statute let you sue them, reparations would not be a type of remedy the court has the power to grant, they would only have the power to make the government respect the constitutional rights of the affected parties in the future.

If this was an actual case, it would be decided by the supreme court and the supreme court could care less about Cato or whatever 9th circuit there was and they can do whatever they wanted.  Only the 9th circuit and the district courts under them are bound by 9th circuit decisions.



I'm a 0L and have no idea what I'm talking about, but I'm under the impression that if the executive branch A)fails to make a transfer of wealth required of it by congressional statute or B)conspires to deprive certain citizens of earning power, then the injuried parties would have solid ground on which to seek damages in court without a staute explicitly authorizing them to do so.  The damages would not be some court imagined reparations, but specific damages for the economic injury done to African-Americans.  Is there something about this that I've got wrong?  I'm really ignorant on this stuff, so let me know what I'm missing...
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: philibusters on April 03, 2007, 09:05:48 PM
Nope, you have no right to sue the government.  Even the states (through an odd interpretation of the 11th amendment--though section 5 of amendment 14 slightly modifies the 11th amendment).

You guys don't under the stand the role of the courts.  The courts only decide the rights of living parties in current conflicts.  Period.

Maybe you guys are confusing a racial group with a class action suit-huge difference, everybody in a class action suit for example used the product and suffered harmed personally and individually has a claim against the defendant. Not sure. 

As for remedies, Congress can only make the government did what it is obligated by law to do.  Thus if the government was supposed to distribute land 140 years ago, the government can only make them distribute land, they cannot substitute reparations, in regards to the government, its important to remember, the courts can only ask them to do what they are legally obligated to do in the first or sometimes there are stautes, for example Congress passed statutes giving people who have their constitutional rights violated by the police a right to sue to government and win monetary rewards, but that is solely based on a statutorily grant of power. 

Lastly you guys are talking vaguely about what things were not enforced and what not, you would need to cite specific statutes from Congress (not the state governments-any thing passed by the states would have to be enforced by state courts).  Also all the Congress could  redistribute was legally confiscated from confederates, they cannot take land away from individuals to redistribute with due process and just compensation.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: philibusters on April 03, 2007, 09:22:30 PM
To be perfectly fair, before I went to law school I didn't understand how the courts worked--and I would have made a lot of the same mistakes.  Remember you need to have a recognized legal theory to bring a suit, there has to be a dispute (not necessary genuine for example in bond law-sometimes the local government will kind of bring suit against themselves to test whether the municipal bonds they are issuing are constitutional) between current living parties over their rights (though some rights are inheritable, for example if author dies he could could put in his will that he leaves copyright in his book to his daughter), but you you need a dispute with current living parties over their legal rights and some rights like human rights violations are personally and can't be passed on, others say if they were entitled to money from the government might be assginable to their heirs.  Lastly you cannot sue the government unless they grant you that right by statute.  That is a difficult concepts for non lawyers to understand...I am posting the wikipedia page on it to better help you understand... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sovereign_immunity
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: attic4fp on April 03, 2007, 09:22:37 PM
Quote
Nope, you have no right to sue the government.  Even the states (through an odd interpretation of the 11th amendment--though section 5 of amendment 14 slightly modifies the 11th amendment). [/qoute]

Well, I'm wrong then. I'll take your word for it.

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You guys don't under the stand the role of the courts.  The courts only decide the rights of living parties in current conflicts.  Period.

not sure how this applies.  descendents of deceased injuried parties, which is what we're talking about, end up in court all the the time.

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Maybe you guys are confusing a racial group with a class action suit-huge difference, everybody in a class action suit for example used the product and suffered harmed personally and individually has a claim against the defendant. Not sure. 

As for remedies, Congress can only make the government did what it is obligated by law to do.  Thus if the government was supposed to distribute land 140 years ago, the government can only make them distribute land, they cannot substitute reparations, in regards to the government, its important to remember, the courts can only ask them to do what they are legally obligated to do in the first or sometimes there are stautes, for example Congress passed statutes giving people who have their constitutional rights violated by the police a right to sue to government and win monetary rewards, but that is solely based on a statutorily grant of power. 

Lastly you guys are talking vaguely about what things were not enforced and what not, you would need to cite specific statutes from Congress (not the state governments-any thing passed by the states would have to be enforced by state courts).  Also all the Congress could  redistribute was legally confiscated from confederates, they cannot take land away from individuals to redistribute with due process and just compensation.

Read anything by Foner if you want to see examples of statutes not being enforced.  I'm not really interested in finding specific legislation, but it exists.  Sabotaging Reconstruction was the Johnson administration's whole thing.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: attic4fp on April 03, 2007, 09:27:39 PM
To be perfectly fair, before I went to law school I didn't understand how the courts worked--and I would have made a lot of the same mistakes.  Remember you need to have a recognized legal theory to bring a suit, there has to be a dispute (not necessary genuine for example in bond law-sometimes the local government will kind of bring suit against themselves to test whether the municipal bonds they are issuing are constitutional) between current living parties over their rights (though some rights are inheritable, for example if author dies he could could put in his will that he leaves copyright in his book to his daughter), but you you need a dispute with current living parties over their legal rights and some rights like human rights violations are personally and can't be passed on, others say if they were entitled to money from the government might be assginable to their heirs.  Lastly you cannot sue the government unless they grant you that right by statute.  That is a difficult concepts for non lawyers to understand...I am posting the wikipedia page on it to better help you understand... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sovereign_immunity

Why isn't the Johnson administration not enforcing legislation actionable under the Federal Tort Claims Act? (this is an honest question, not a semi-rhetorical one)
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: philibusters on April 03, 2007, 09:46:46 PM
To be perfectly fair, before I went to law school I didn't understand how the courts worked--and I would have made a lot of the same mistakes.  Remember you need to have a recognized legal theory to bring a suit, there has to be a dispute (not necessary genuine for example in bond law-sometimes the local government will kind of bring suit against themselves to test whether the municipal bonds they are issuing are constitutional) between current living parties over their rights (though some rights are inheritable, for example if author dies he could could put in his will that he leaves copyright in his book to his daughter), but you you need a dispute with current living parties over their legal rights and some rights like human rights violations are personally and can't be passed on, others say if they were entitled to money from the government might be assginable to their heirs.  Lastly you cannot sue the government unless they grant you that right by statute.  That is a difficult concepts for non lawyers to understand...I am posting the wikipedia page on it to better help you understand... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sovereign_immunity

Why isn't the Johnson administration not enforcing legislation actionable under the Federal Tort Claims Act? (this is an honest question, not a semi-rhetorical one)

Don't know about that, you would have to ask somebody with knowledge of that period, probably a prof or you could look it up in scholarly writings to see if you can find anything about it yourself, but I have no idea off the top of my head.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: philibusters on April 03, 2007, 09:49:26 PM
I know all about sovereign immunity, I just don't think it's an insurmountable obstacle.  Like attic, I'm not a law student, but I have in mind cases like Pigford v. Veneman, where a class action suit was brought (and settled) by a group of black farmers against the USDA for discrimination in the granting of federal loans.  Now that I've jumped in, I'd like to continue this conversation, but anything terribly substantial is going to have to wait until tomorrow morning.

You keep referring to 'you guys,' which isn't helping the clarity of the exchange, but I don't think I'm misunderstanding how the courts function as much as you're suggesting.  I expect you know much more about it than attic and I do, but this knowledge gap doesn't need to be used to close off the debate. 

From what I know of the law, I find it very hard to imagine reparations would ever come from the courts.  I have to look up the case you cited to find the procedural history of it, I only know landmark cases, I'll look it up and get back to you on the procedural history.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: philibusters on April 03, 2007, 09:51:35 PM
Okay I looked up the case Pigford v. Veneman, they acted under a statute that allowed them to sue the government, I am copying a pasting the relevant part of the case to the procedural history...

"Proceeding under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, 15
U.S.C. ss 1691-1691f, three African-American farmers filed
this class action against the United States Department of
Agriculture alleging racial discrimination in the administra-
tion of federally funded credit and benefit programs. "
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: attic4fp on April 03, 2007, 09:53:07 PM
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Don't know about that, you would have to ask somebody with knowledge of that period, probably a prof or you could look it up in scholarly writings to see if you can find anything about it yourself, but I have no idea off the top of my head.

That was not the reply I expected at all.  Does that mean it may very well be actionable?

That seems to contradict your whole point in this thread, which was that descendents of freed slaves could not sue for damages for economic injuries received from non-enforcement of Reconstruction legislation.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: philibusters on April 03, 2007, 09:56:29 PM
That was not the reply I expected at all.  Does that mean it may very well be actionable?

That seems to contradict your whole point in this thread, which was that descendents of freed slaves could not sue for damages for economic injuries received from non-enforcement of Reconstruction legislation.


There is probably a statute that lets them sue, most agencies for example, the EPA or Disability Programs let people bring suit.  Plus its highly likely that the 1964 and 1965 Civil Rights Act gave African American's remedies to sue for any violations of their rights....WAIT...I thought you meant Lyndon Johnson, you mean Andrew Johnson, I was confused
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: philibusters on April 03, 2007, 10:03:15 PM
Okay for anything that happened under Andrew Johnson, remember you need living parties that have a dispute over the legal rights.  The legal issue is whether any rights given under statute during Reconstruction are assignable (can they be passed to heirs)--the answer depends on what the statute says.  If the statute says nothings, the courts will interpret it based on Congressional intent.  So ignoring things like statute of limitations or whether there is a statute giving them the power to sue the gov't, its possible living parties could have legal rights in dispute...

Just to reemphasize a point, say the government in 1866 emphasized that each ex-slave was entitled to 100 bucks and the this right was assignable to the ex-slave heirs if the ex-slave died before receiving the money.  Now you get to today, all the heirs of the ex slaves would be entitled to a portion of that 100 bucks, if there were 100 of them, then each would be entitled to a dollar under the statute.  This would not be reparations which was my first point, theortically its possible African Americans who can prove their heritage would be entitled to any benefits their ancestors were granted, that are assignable, but that is all they are entitled to. 
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: attic4fp on April 03, 2007, 10:18:17 PM
That was not the reply I expected at all.  Does that mean it may very well be actionable?

That seems to contradict your whole point in this thread, which was that descendents of freed slaves could not sue for damages for economic injuries received from non-enforcement of Reconstruction legislation.


There is probably a statute that lets them sue, most agencies for example, the EPA or Disability Programs let people bring suit.  Plus its highly likely that the 1964 and 1965 Civil Rights Act gave African American's remedies to sue for any violations of their rights....WAIT...I thought you meant Lyndon Johnson, you mean Andrew Johnson, I was confused

haha, sorry, my bad.  I should have been more clear, since there is indeed a bit of difference between the two.  Especially when it comes to civil rights issues.


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Okay for anything that happened under Andrew Johnson, remember you need living parties that have a dispute over the legal rights.  The legal issue is whether any rights given under statute during Reconstruction are assignable (can they be passed to heirs)--the answer depends on what the statute says.  If the statute says nothings, the courts will interpret it based on Congressional intent.  So ignoring things like statute of limitations or whether there is a statute giving them the power to sue the gov't, its possible living parties could have legal rights in dispute,

yeah, i guess that's the question.  I bet it's an interesting one, too.  On the one hand, I'm pretty sure the statutes were explicitly written to apply to the transition from slave to free, which would probably make them less likely to be interpreted as assignable, huh?  On the other hand, I think Congressional intent was pretty clearly to A) completely restructure southern society and economy  and B) redress past wrongs.  That would be an interesting endeavor in statute construing, I guess.

For what it's worth (maybe nothing), it's pretty clear the members of Congress who wrote and voted for the law thought injury was being done to the southern African-Americans.  After all, they did impeach Andrew Johnson, although that was nominally for removing the Sec. of War, I think.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: philibusters on April 03, 2007, 10:24:42 PM
That was not the reply I expected at all.  Does that mean it may very well be actionable?

That seems to contradict your whole point in this thread, which was that descendents of freed slaves could not sue for damages for economic injuries received from non-enforcement of Reconstruction legislation.


There is probably a statute that lets them sue, most agencies for example, the EPA or Disability Programs let people bring suit.  Plus its highly likely that the 1964 and 1965 Civil Rights Act gave African American's remedies to sue for any violations of their rights....WAIT...I thought you meant Lyndon Johnson, you mean Andrew Johnson, I was confused

haha, sorry, my bad.  I should have been more clear, since there is indeed a bit of difference between the two.  Especially when it comes to civil rights issues.


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Okay for anything that happened under Andrew Johnson, remember you need living parties that have a dispute over the legal rights.  The legal issue is whether any rights given under statute during Reconstruction are assignable (can they be passed to heirs)--the answer depends on what the statute says.  If the statute says nothings, the courts will interpret it based on Congressional intent.  So ignoring things like statute of limitations or whether there is a statute giving them the power to sue the gov't, its possible living parties could have legal rights in dispute,

yeah, i guess that's the question.  I bet it's an interesting one, too.  On the one hand, I'm pretty sure the statutes were explicitly written to apply to the transition from slave to free, which would probably make them less likely to be interpreted as assignable, huh?  On the other hand, I think Congressional intent was pretty clearly to A) completely restructure southern society and economy  and B) redress past wrongs.  That would be an interesting endeavor in statute construing, I guess.

For what it's worth (maybe nothing), it's pretty clear the members of Congress who wrote and voted for the law thought injury was being done to the southern African-Americans.  After all, they did impeach Andrew Johnson, although that was nominally for removing the Sec. of War, I think.

Sounds weird, but today he could challenge that impeachment, as courts have intrepreted Article 1 of the constitution to give the President the sole power to remove cabinet members.  Congress passed a law when they got wind Stanton was going to be fired saying he needed their approval before he fired a cabinet member.  He did fire a cabinet member and Congress impeached him for violating the law-the law which he violated, under today's court's decision, Congress had no power to pass because they can't lessen the powers granted to the President by Article 1 of the constitution by passing a statute.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: philibusters on April 03, 2007, 10:25:59 PM
Whoops, I meant Article II.  Ignore the momentary brain freeze.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: attic4fp on April 03, 2007, 10:30:46 PM
Yeah, but who need Article II when you're talking about Ed Stanton.  He was much sweeter than Article II.
Title: Re: Reparations?
Post by: reverendT on August 29, 2007, 07:20:19 AM
How about "Anyone who was a slave, step forward and we'll pay you."

Or how about we send the African American community a bill for the cost of the Civil War (including a dolalr value placed on 600,000 lives?

Sound ridiculous?  So does asking me to spend my tax dollars on to atone for something that my ancestors weren't even here to partake in.