March 29, 2002

Editorial

Supreme Court Rules Against Human Rights

“Our Constitution is a covenant running from the first generation of Americans
to us and then to future generations. It is a coherent succession. Each generation
must learn anew that the Constitution’s written terms embody ideas and aspirations
that must survive more ages than one.”
Justices O’Connor, Kennedy, and Souter
Postscript to “ We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday, March 27 that undocumented immi grants who are wrongly terminated may not collect back wages from their former employers. Justice William H. Rehnquist was joined in this decision by Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas. Dissenting were four liberals: Justice Stephen G. Breyer, John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter and Ruth Ginsburg.

The Court ruled in the case of Jose Castro, an undocumented Mexican worker who worked for minimum wage at Hoffman, Plastic Compounds located in Paramount, CA. Castro initially lied about his immigration status in order to gain employment. Later, along with three other workers, he tried to start a Union in order to move beyond the “slave wages” that they were being paid. They were fired for their Union activities. Castro and his associates appealed to the National Labor Relations Board, stating that they were at least entitled to their back pay, which the company had refused to award them. Castro’s back pay, alone, amounted to $67,000. The NLRB ruled in 1995 that “workers fired for participating in protected activities, such as Union organizing, are entitled to back wages.” Justice William H. Rehnquist and his four co-conspirators, disagreed. Rehnquist stated, “Awarding back pay to illegal aliens runs counter to policies underlying federal immigration laws!”

The Rehnquist ruling is troubling and brings into light one pressing question: Was the Constitution designed as an instrument to protect only its citizens, or is it a document that forms the basis of our nation? What happened to the prevailing concept that any person who happens to be in our country enjoys the same civil rights and provisions of our Bill of Rights? Whether a visitor is here for a day, month or a year, they are subject to our laws. Don’t undocumented persons pay taxes?

Where in the Constitution does it say that our Constitution only applies to U.S. citizens? We submit that once a person crosses our borders he is subject to our Constitution, our State and our Federal laws.

In 1948 the United Nations issued a Universal Declaration of Human Rights following President Roosevelt’s declarations of 1941 in which he defined the four freedoms worth fighting for: Freedom of Worship, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Want, and Freedom of Fear. These are our basic human rights! When the Justices voted to deny Jose Castro the protection of our civil and constitutional rights and deny him the protection of our laws, they committed a grievous sin against humanity!

It is interesting to note that Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy signed their names to the PostScript to “We The People: The Citizen and the Constitution,” which was published and funded by the U.S. Department of Education by an act of Congress. This is the basic manual for all high schools, junior high schools and citizenship classes. Perhaps they forgot what was in that publication. They betrayed the ideals of our country. Justice David Souter sustained his convictions and vision of a true American. This travesty against our Constitution must be challenged.

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