Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Ed Emery bill invites return of Jim Crow era

Nearly half a century has passed since the U. S. Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling brought the hammer down forever on the fiction that was “separate but equal.”

Unfortunately, those who wanted to cling to the past, led the nation through a turbulent, and often violent, era that my students research every year during the third quarter.

After Brown v. Board of Education, the state of Mississippi fought federal civil rights laws and court rulings by forming the secretive Sovereignty Commission which declared its purpose to be to “protect the sovereignty of the state of Mississippi and her sister states from the federal government.”

The Sovereignty Commission worked to prevent civil rights activism in the South and did its best to preserve Jim Crow beneath the Mason-Dixon line.

It would be nice to think that in the enlightened era in which we live, this type of nonsense would be buried in the past.

Sadly, that is not the case.

Today, SB 119, which would create a sovereignty commission for Missouri, received its first reading in the State Senate.

The bill’s summary reads as follows:

The role of the commission shall be to identify federal legislation that infringes on Missouri's sovereignty, make recommendations to the General Assembly regarding state legislation that would preserve the principles of the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, conduct inquiries with Missouri Congressional members regarding votes cast on federal legislation which may affect Missouri's sovereignty, and refer cases to the Attorney General when the federal government requires the state or a state officer to enact or enforce provisions of federal law outside Congress' enumerated powers.The Commission shall consist of seven members appointed by the various branches of government. The members shall serve two-year terms.

Newly-elected Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, a veteran of the Missouri House, sponsored the bill.

The bill is a duplicate of a bill Emery filed in 2010, his last year in the House before term limits ended his eight-year run. While no one has ever accused of Emery of the type of racism that spurred the creation of Mississippi’s Sovereignty Commission, his record on a number of issues concerning the federal government, including immigration, has been somewhat bizarre.

As I noted in a September Turner Report post:

Emery has been associated with the birther movement and became well known in Missouri government circles after his House special committee issued a report which blamed Missouri’s immigration problems on abortion (if all of those babies had not been aborted, Emery reasoned, there would be no jobs available for anyone coming from another country).

He has also been outspoken in his opposition to Obamacare, has likened public education (he was homeschooled and homeschooled his children) to a “pipeline to prison,” and threatened President Obama during a September campaign stop in Adrian, Missouri, as I noted in my earlier post:

“We need guns to be protected from the tyranny of government,” Emery said to a loud outburst of spontaneous applause. Emery continued to talk about that for a few moments, then added, “Barack Obama has showed us what tyranny looks like.”

 A state sovereignty commission seems to be just another idea to protect those who have from those who have not, At a time when this state and this country should be looking to improve the standing of its poorest citizens (and those who come to this country chasing the American dream), there are those who want to return us to the genteel lily white days of the ‘50s, when those who did not look like Ed Emery knew their place.

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