The Senate Slavery Apology Disclaimer: Don't Even Think About Suing Us

Yes; the US Senate was totally sorry. No; they aren't handing over dime one...

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A Pro-Reparations Rally in DC (July 2002)

From Ashton Lattimore at NewsOne:

“This was a day that many of us have dreamed about for our entire lives,” said Russell Simmons.

On June 18, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution apologizing to African-Americans for slavery, drawing effusive praise from high-profile figures like Simmons and President Barack Obama.

But three little lines at the end of the text sent the proverbial needle scratching across the record:

“DISCLAIMER- Nothing in this resolution – (A) authorizes or supports any claim against the United States; or (B) serves as a settlement of any claim against the United States.”

The “reparations disclaimer” was a bit of “lawyer language” that legislators slipped into the resolution to protect their client — in this case, the United States — just in case future claims might attempt to cite this resolution as support.

But in seeking to sidestep the issue of reparations, the Senate’s resolution inadvertently reignited the more than century-old discussion. Adjoa A. Aiyetoro, a legal consultant for the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (NCOBRA) and associate professor of law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, explains:

“It has angered the [reparations] movement that they’d make such a strong disclaimer, as opposed to saying nothing. As you can see from some of the responses from the Congressional Black Caucus and others, it has added to the arguments of people who support reparations, and shown that we must continue to make our effort strong.”

Let's dust off the old argument, shall we? Reparations: Feasible? Reasonable?

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