William F. Buckley Jr. famously described the role of conservatives as standing athwart history yelling, “Stop.” Usually, we stand in front of what liberals claim is “progress,” such as allowing sex changes for minor children and abolishing the Constitution.
But sometimes we have to stand in front of liberals to stop them from reinstituting sordid practices that we have successfully ended.
In New York and Minnesota, liberals have put the train in full reverse by prioritizing limited COVID-19 treatments on the basis of race. And the federal agency that is supposed to base its work on rational, proven science, the Food and Drug Administration, has issued guidelines approving this noxious behavior.
In New York, officials have made drugs automatically available only to people who meet one of several eligibility criteria, which include being “nonwhite.” In Minnesota, the Department of Health is “deprioritizing access” to treatment for Americans who happen to be Caucasian.
Although the average American recognizes that this is a return to a shameful period when many state governments engaged in flagrant and unconscionable racial discrimination, the wise and self-anointed liberals running New York and Minnesota assure us that this is, in fact, “racial progress.”
Those liberals, in their imagined infinite wisdom, claim that “systemic health and social inequalities” require race-based rationing. Science, on the other hand, says that people who are old or have underlying health conditions such as obesity and diabetes are at the greatest risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms.
But the liberal bureaucrats think they know better. Boy, are they wrong!
Race, they say, may be used as a proxy for supposed greater COVID-19 risk across whole racial groups. The Constitution and the civil rights laws that we implemented to end the evil practice of racial discrimination (which liberals once championed), on the other hand, say that it can’t be.
As Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has explained (on more than one occasion), discrimination on the basis of race “is just as wrong today as it was a half-century ago.”
The Constitution’s equal protection clause guarantees that all citizens are equal before the law and permits race-based policies only if the government can meet the strictest possible test showing that such policies serve a “compelling interest” and are as narrow as possible.
Using race as a proxy for something else or giving one racial group a preference denied to another is presumptively unconstitutional. Race-based policies must be a “last resort,” available only after all race-neutral remedies have failed.
Have New York and Minnesota tried race-neutral alternatives such as giving treatment on an individual basis to those who are old or sick regardless of race?
Of course not, but the wise liberals in charge are not interested in individuals. They’re interested in pretending to save the world from supposed systemic injustice (a fabrication itself) with sweeping gestures that have no basis in medicine or science.
Too bad for them that they are surrounded by state and federal civil rights laws that provide for the equal protection of all Americans. New York’s own Constitution says that no one can be subjected to any discrimination because of race or color. New York’s Civil Rights Law reaffirms it. Minnesota’s Human Rights Act does the same.
The federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits race-based discrimination across all the states, and the Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare, guarantees equal treatment on the basis of race in health care.
There’s no ambiguity in the law on this. And that makes the silence from U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, New York Attorney General Letitia James, and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison so disappointing. These government officials are failing in their duty to defend equal justice as liberal bureaucrats rewind history’s clock.
If Garland, James, and Ellison truly believed in enforcing our laws against blatant racial discrimination, they would file suit immediately to prevent the reprehensible policies these two state governments are implementing and force the Food and Drug Administration to reverse its discriminatory guidelines. Otherwise, these policies will lead to the suffering and death of untreated COVID-19 patients solely due to their race.
Someone should remind these law enforcement officials of what the Supreme Court has said so many times: “All citizens are equal before the law.”
Every drop of ink, sweat, and blood spilled to make that statement true has been worth it. Every progressive plan to abandon the gains made on that civil rights battlefield should be torn to bits.
Liberals are trying to move us backward down the tracks of history to resegregate America and reinstitute some of the most appalling practices that we once saw in our nation. Conservatives must stand against their retreat and protect the gains we have made in ending official discrimination, making it morally unacceptable in our culture.
Lives depend on it.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal