NAACP Urges Comcast To Cease Attack On Civil Rights Statute

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The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is trying to raise awareness about an inevitable Supreme Court case involving Comcast and a $20 billion racial discrimination lawsuit levied against the cable giant by Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios.

The civil rights organization was roused into action because of Comcast and Donald Trump’s Department of Justice alliance, which is attempting to roll back crucial protections listed in the Civil Rights Act of 1866.

“In several weeks, the Supreme Court will hear one of the most important civil rights cases to come before it this term,” the civil rights organization said in a statement Friday, according to Deadline.

“Comcast – the second largest broadcasting and cable television company in the world – is poised to take an unprecedented step,” the NAACP added. “Because of a dispute with a Black businessman, the company has urged the Supreme Court to roll back the crucial protections of one of the nation’s oldest civil rights laws, Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866.

“Although the NAACP takes no position on the underlying dispute, we have decided to take the lead on this issue,” the statement continues. “We urge Comcast to cease its attack on Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866; a bedrock civil rights statute that has been in place for more than 150 years.”

The NAACP’s involvement in the landmark case comes as a bit of a surprise considering Allen, along with Al Sharpton and several others, sued the organization for taking “sham” diversity funding from Comcast and other companies.

On August 15, the Trump Administration’s DOJ filed a brief that seeks to tighten the definitions of the bill’s statute in Comcast’s favor.

The pending Supreme Court case stems from businessman Byron Allen, who is African American, and his attempts to get Comcast and Charter to carry his Black-owned TV networks. Those networks were already being carried by rival distributors including Verizon, Dish, and DirecTV.

Allen said he has been rebuffed repeatedly, and in his multi-billion dollar suit made it very clear that he believes race played a factor because Entertainment Studios is a fully minority-owned entity. Both Comcast and Charter have denied race has played a factor.

Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 is a federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, and ethnicity when making and enforcing contracts. The statute applies to all private employers and labor organizations, but does not apply to discrimination by the US federal government as an employer.

If the case lands on the Supreme Court docket, Allen and his attorneys may be required to prove that race was absolutely the only reason Comcast didn’t place the company’s channels on its distribution services and platforms.

A hearing before the High Court is currently scheduled for November 13. Below is the NAACP’s full statement regarding its call for Comcast to cease any attempts in overturning Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866.

In several weeks, the Supreme Court will hear one of the most important civil rights cases to come before it this term. Comcast – the second largest broadcasting and cable television company in the world – is poised to take an unprecedented step. Because of a dispute with a Black businessman, the company has urged the Supreme Court to roll back the crucial protections of one of the nation’s oldest civil rights laws, Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866.

For more than a century, Section 1981 has been used as an important tool to combat race discrimination, particularly for employment discrimination claimants. Throughout the NAACP’s history, standard-bearers of justice like Thurgood Marshall have harnessed the power of Section 1981 to fight various forms of discrimination. Yet now, in a situation that has become all too familiar during this era, an upcoming Supreme Court decision has the potential to reject these lessons of history by rolling back the clock on basic civil rights.

Although the NAACP takes no position on the underlying dispute, we have decided to take the lead on this issue. We urge Comcast to cease its attack on Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866; a bedrock civil rights statute that has been in place for more than 150 years.

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