Kamala Harris and Cory Booker blast Comcast in $20B Byron Allen civil rights lawsuit

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Days before the new session of the Supreme Court is set to begin, an ever-growing chorus of displeasure with the alliance between Comcast and Donald Trump’s Department of Justice in Byron Allen’s $20 billion battle with the NBCUniversal owner grew even louder and potentially more presidential.

In the closing hours for amicus briefs to be filed to the high court earlier this week, Oval Office contenders Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) joined with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the influential Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal to stop a perceived pivotal change to long-standing civil rights legislation in the case that is to be heard before the justices on November 13.

“The statute at issue in this case—42 U.S.C. § 1981—was passed immediately after the Civil War as part of a broader effort to ensure that the newly freed slaves enjoyed the same rights as other citizens,” the Senators and Congressional Representatives state. “This Court should not rewrite Section 1981 and disturb the vital protections that Congress passed that statute to provide.”

Amid battling Allen and his Entertainment Studios for nearly four years in the courts, Comcast got a boost from the Trump administration on August 15, when the William Barr-led Justice Department filed a brief that seeks to tighten the definitions of the Reconstruction Era statute in the Philadelphia-based corporation’s favor.

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The DOJ’s brief frames the statute to require that Entertainment Studios has to prove race was not merely a motivating factor, as the 9th Circuit interpreted the statute earlier this summer. Now, if Chief Justice John Roberts and associate justices agree, Allen’s lawyers would have to prove that race was absolutely the only reason Comcast didn’t place the company’s channels on its distribution services and platforms – which is a near-impossible standard by any measure. (read more)

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