Prof. Prepares Reparations Lawsuit
Climenko Professor of Law Charles J. Ogletree Jr. will be meeting with other members of a slavery reparations "dream team" on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. to map out a litigation strategy for the controversial plan to seek financial restitution for slavery from both the U.S. government and private companies.
Also in attendance will be Randall Robinson, the author of The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks, Johnnie Cochran and other famed class-action suit winners and academics.
Robinson himself has a history of being on the cutting edge of activism, as the founder and executive director of TransAfrica, a think-tank and lobbying group best-known for its part in the ending of apartheid.
The attorneys are expected to focus not only on suing the government, but may also go after corporations which profited from the slave trade, according to an anonymous source quoted in Friday's Boston Globe.
None of the members of the self-proclaimed "dream team" were talking about the many questions surrounding the issue-what grounds their case will be built on, who the plaintiffs will be, or who will be sued-and likely will decide these matters on Tuesday.
One possible target is the Aetna Life & Casualty Co., which recently admitted that it "may have insured the lives of slaves." Nevertheless, a company statement on the issue ends with "We have concluded that, beyond our apology, no further actions are required."
And Roy E. Clason, Aetna spokesman, said that no one has yet made legal motion against the insurance company to challenge that conclusion.
The meeting comes in the wake of a recent anti-reparations ad campaign by David Horowitz on college campuses
Horowitz claimed the statute of limitations has run out on the issue, that the current stockholders have no responsibility for what companies might have done, and, most abstractly, that the debt has already been made up.
"It seems to me that suing corporations has the problem that the stockholders of these corporations are not people who were ever involved with slavery," said Horowitz.
Furthermore, Horowitz took issue with the wealth of the "dream team."
"These lawyers are all multi-millionaires-so it's unseemly and it's
hypocritical of them to be suing," he said.