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August 22, 2001

Whatever happened to equal protection

Prosecutorial abuse has reached new heights in Idaho. A white husband is being prosecuted for committing a hate crime for coming to the aid of his wife who was assaulted by a black man. The black man committed a physical assault on the woman. Her husband committed only a verbal assault on his wife's black attacker -- but, alas, the enraged husband used the n-word. This was enough for county prosecutor Myron Gabbert to overlook the physical assault, instead charging the white husband with a felony that carries a five year jail term.

No, this is not a joke. You can get the details online at

Gabbert is too focused on creating a name for himself by riding political correctness to a new height to realize that he is driving another nail into the coffin that minority preference has made for the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution. The Idaho legislature and governor are oblivious to their irresponsibility that let a law that could produce such a result get on the books.

Indeed, the Idaho population in general shows no recognition of the legal precedent that is being established: If the husband is found guilty, it will henceforth be a hate crime for a white male to protect his wife (or children or parents or anyone) from assault by a legally privileged "preferred minority." Even a verbal protest to a preferred minority about his behavior will bring felony charges.

Those conservatives and libertarians who pretend that the era of minority preferences is over need to wake up and find their voices before the new legal caste system becomes too entrenched to be overthrown. But the likelihood is scant that many commentators will find the courage to see the facts.

Just the other day, Paul Gigot, The Wall Street Journal's conservative columnist who has been named Robert Bartley's successor as editor of the editorial page, wrote a column endorsing President Bush's proposed amnesty of millions of illegal Hispanic immigrants. Gigot never addressed the important question of the implications of an immigration policy that fills the country with immigrants who, by virtue of their racial classification, have privileged legal standing compared to the native-born white population.

Preferment's for "preferred minorities" are deviations from equal protection. These deviations are now three decades old. Our constitutional order is being overturned by these deviations and by an immigration policy that floods the country with "preferred minorities."

Already, the Bush administration believes it must accommodate preferred minorities with an amnesty for millions of illegals and by defending federal racial quotas in U.S. Department of Transportation contracts in a current Supreme Court case. If the Bush administration will not defend the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution now, the rapidly growing numbers of preferred minorities will make it politically impossible to ever restore equality in law.

Gigot and other commentators will no doubt vigorously protest when it becomes clear that our political future is a contest between two political parties offering preferred minorities more and more preferences for votes. Only then will the shallowness and shortsightedness of today's arguments be clear.

Yes, it would be good for Republicans to win a larger share of the Hispanic vote, but how extraordinary it is that Republicans think the Hispanic vote is more important than the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution. Yes, cheap labor might be good for the economy and union ranks, but why is it good for economic outcomes to be determined by racial preferences?

Like the stupid Idaho prosecutor, the Bush administration is creating more precedents that etch legal inequality for white citizens ever more firmly in law. In his famous dissent to the Plessy ruling of "separate but equal," Justice John Marshall Harlan said: "There is no caste here. Our Constitution is color-blind." What a caste Harlan would find today -- a caste built in the name of civil rights!

Equal protection of law is a human achievement, the product of a thousand-year struggle. Today this extraordinary achievement counts for less than "gaining a share of the minority vote" or compensating minorities for discrimination their forebears experienced.

When equal protection is lost, it will be lost for everyone.

©2001 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

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