The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
It is the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, and I thought the following two pieces might be of interest to this blog's readers.
The first is a column by Charles C.W. Cooke in the National Review (yes, that National Review), "The GOP's Conspicuous Absence from Selma." The entire thing is worth reading, but here is the conclusion:
If we are to regard the founding generation as being worthy of contemporary political lionization—and we most assuredly should—then we must consider those who marched at Selma to be so, too. If we are to put George Washington upon our plinths, and to eulogize him on our currency, we must agree to elevate Martin Luther King Jr. to the same dizzy heights. They are less famous, perhaps, but by virtue of their brave march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, John Lewis and Hosea Williams immortalized themselves into quintessential American heroes in the mold of Sam Adams and George Mason. To miss an opportunity to solemnize their daring is to blunder, disgracefully.
If all men really are created equal, the anniversary of Selma must be treated as a date every bit as important to American history as is the end of the Siege of Yorktown. As it would be unthinkable for the leadership of the Republican party to ignore July Fourth, it should be unthinkable for its luminaries not to celebrate the anniversary of the March to Montgomery either. Where have you gone, Speaker Boehner, a movement turns its lonely eyes to you.
The ruling opened the way for hundreds to march down U.S. 80, culminating with a 25,000-person protest in front of the Alabama State Capitol. Speaking there, King famously asked, "How long?" and answered "Not long. Because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice." Selma still represents the pinnacle of the use of peaceful protests to secure civil rights and reform the government.
Today, it would be impossible to obtain a federal court order permitting a five-day protest march on a 52-mile stretch of a major U.S. highway. Under contemporary legal doctrine, the Selma protests would have ended March 8, 1965.