Congressman Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) blasted Comcast on Friday, calling for the breakup of the major cable conglomerate for “attempting to undo the Civil Rights Act of 1866.”
Rep. Rush, issued the letter to Comcast’s CEO, Brian Roberts, whose company is facing a racial discrimination lawsuit by media mogul, Byron Allen.
“It is evident to me that with this demonstration of corporate greed, Comcast has forfeited and repudiated its claim to be an inclusive company that is a friend of the black community,” wrote Rush. “And, with this betrayal, has shown itself to be an enemy of minority communities.”
“It is my belief that the Comcast Corporation needs to be broken up,” Rush concludes.
Comcast’s legal appeal to the Supreme Court over Allen’s lawsuit, rests on changing the essence of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and requiring people to prove race was the sole motivating factor for any discrimination claims, not a partial factor as it was used in the past.
The change could be devastating to Black and other minority communities looking for a legal avenue to hold companies accountable for doing business with them.
“Comcast…has reached such prominence that it now disregard[s] these communities with a cold, callous corporate insensitivity that is stultifying, arrogant, harmful, and intensely painful,” Rush wrote. “This is further made clear by the fact that it would seek to weaken the protections of the Act to merely prevail in a lawsuit.”
Comcast responded to Rush’s letter Friday by touting its long list of African-American themed films led by Black directors and actors, and reiterating the company’s dedication to diversity.
“There is no major media company in America that has done more to promote diverse programming than Comcast,” a Comcast spokesperson told Deadline.
“We’ve gone above and beyond the MOUs from the NBCUniversal transaction in every case… Our film divisions are making films like Us, Get Out, Straight Outta Compton, Harriet, Girls Trip, Little, and Queen and Slim, all with African American directors and stars. We’ve dramatically increased on air and behind the camera diversity across all of NBCUniversal.”
Allen also reacted Friday to Rush’s letter, telling Deadline that he is “highly confident that if Comcast shows up in the U.S. Supreme Court next week to challenge the civil rights of over 100 million Americans, Comcast will be broken up.”
Allen’s lawsuit has sparked national debate, with everyone from civil rights leaders like Dr. Bernice King to celebrities like Killer Mike weighing in on the implications of the outcome.
Comcast first appealed to the Supreme Court after the 9th Circuit sided with Allen. Now the case goes before the SCOTUS on November 13.