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Mike Johnson booed for calling slavery reparations ‘unconstitutional’

Rep. Mike Johnson received boos Wednesday during a congressional hearing when he said proposed reparations for those with a family history of slavery would be “unconstitutional.”

Mr. Johnson, who is the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, made the remarks about a proposed bill H.R. 40, which would create a commission to study reparations.

Mr. Johnson said that despite the “horrific injustice” of slavery, reparations would also be an “injustice.”

“Here in the Judiciary Committee, we have an obligation to acknowledge that any monetary reparations that might be recommended by the commission created by HR 40 would almost certainly be unconstitutional on their face,” he said.

That triggered boos from the audience as committee Chair Steve Cohen quickly banged his gavel to restore order.



“The reason for that, wait a minute,” Mr. Johnson saidover  the gavel and boos, “the reason for that is a legal question.”

“See the legal question is the federal government can’t constitutionally provide compensation today to a specific racial group because other members of that group, maybe several generations ago, were discriminated against,” he said, citing Supreme Court’s Virginia v. Croson decision, which he said was decided in 1995, but it was actually in 1989.

The hearing took place on Juneteenth, which celebrates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas.

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