Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has received plenty of criticism from fellow Democrats over the impeachment inquiry, but Rep. Al Green’s (D-TX) seem to represent a first among party members. In a fiery speech yesterday, Green accused Democrats of failing to court minority scholars on the subject of impeachment, leading to an all-white panel of Constitutional law professors.
Fox News reports that Green “rebuked his colleagues in a speech on the House floor before the committee hearing began,” excoriating committee organizers for calling Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman, University of North Carolina Law professor Michael Gerhardt, and Stanford Law professor Pamela Karlan as their only witnesses when others were available.
“I rise because I love my country, but I also rise today with heartfelt regrets. It hurts my heart, Mr. Speaker, to see the Judiciary Committee hearing experts on the topic of impeachment — one of the seminal issues of this Congress — hearing experts … and not one person of color among the experts,” Green said.
“What subliminal message are we sending to the world when we have experts but not one person of color? Are we saying that there are no people of color who are experts on this topic of impeachment?” Green continued.
“I refuse to be ignored and taken for granted. I came here to represent the people who are ignored and taken for granted. Not one person of color among the constitutional scholars,” he said, suggesting that Democrats were ignoring the needs and voices of minority voters by hosting the all-white panel. “It seems that there’s a desire among some to have the output of people of color without input from the people of color.”
— CSPAN (@cspan) December 4, 2019
In deference to Green, the Democrats do not appear to have sought out experts on the specific topic of impeachment, but rather law professors with a history of progressive political activism who have been vocal about their opposition to President Donald Trump in the past. Both Feldman and Karlan have made statements noting their distaste for Trump, with Karlan once saying, in a separate panel appearance, that she occasionally crossed the street in Washington, D.C., to avoid passing the city’s Trump International Hotel.
Green may just be trying to inject himself into the impeachment inquiry, which is taking place in two very limited committees and will only come to the House floor once articles of impeachment are drafted, but the sentiment comes at a rather difficult time for Democrats, who are struggling with the idea of racial bias within their ranks, and the lack of racial diversity among their top candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Earlier this week, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) brought an abrupt end to her presidential campaign, leaving Democrats with four front-runners, all of whom are white, and three of whom are male. That rubbed several members of the Democratic Party the wrong way, and a number of commenters have publicly criticized the party for its stunning lack of “diversity.” Oddly enough, though, they seem to be attacking their own voters, who rejected Harris in favor of other candidates, putting her well out of reach of the top tier as early as July.