Monday, May 26, 2014

More reflections on Brown and the "Iron Ring"

As I noticed in my last post here, back to the future seems to be a norm in politics.

Last weekend, the local left pretended it was 1954 on questions of racial balance in school. My Purple Wisconsin colleague Jim Rowen chose to genuflect before a time honored relic of the American left - the so called "iron ring" thrown around Milwaukee in the 1950s.

The "iron ring" amounted to this. The state prevented the city from forcing proximate local communities from joining the city against their will. In this, it did anticipate much of our current controversy over regionalism. Advocates of the city seem to believe that support for the city means forcing others to pay for whatever stupidity city politicians want to promote. It's never going to happen.

But the larger point is that the "iron ring" was drawn too late. As Russell Knetzger pointed out in last Sunday's Crossroads, Milwaukee nevertheless managed to annex huge amounts of real estate. For its population and age, the city has a huge geographic footprint. I'm not sure if there are still farms within the city limits, but - as recently as thirty years ago (over a period in which city population has been more or less stable) - there were.

In my last point, I wrote about the second generation school desegregation litigation in the 80s. One of the points that the defense made in that case was Knetzger's. The city managed to annex huge swaths of real estate to the north and west of the city center. Indeed, we introduced piles of materials from the 50s and 60s that Milwaukee promoted this area as "the suburb in the city." Indeed, an earlier use of the term "iron ring" was to say the the city would not provide services such as water (as if Milwaukee owns the lake; an odd position for public trust zealots) to suburban communities.

The African American population moved into this area - in a pie shaped pattern emanating from the city center. This is not unique to Milwaukee. We introduced evidence that showed the exact same pattern of black outmigration patterns in every other midwest industrial city. People who live an area of initial settlement do not disperse randomly. They tend to remain in proximity to friends and families. Indeed, that type of outmigration is not limited to African Americans. Other ethnic groups have followed a similar -albeit less pronounced - pattern and there is evidence of Hispanic migration to the southwest.

That this population remained in the city is evidence of how much the city was permitted to expand - generally over the opposition of those brought within its borders.

I understand that it is doctrine among the local left that this opposition can be dismissed as racist, This is reductive and lazy. People moved to the suburbs because they wanted a new house and a yard. They did not wish to remain in the city because they wanted self-determination for their new communities.

I understand that, for folks like Jim, self-determination that allows people to avoid paying for his policy preferences is anathema. Maybe he's right. But folks who take exception are not racist for them.

Cross posted at Purple Wisconsin.


Anonymous said...

On the 50th anniversary of Brown vs Board of Education Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same sex marriage. Soon the iron ring of discrimination towards gays in Wisconsin will rust away

John Mitchell said...

"The city managed to annex huge swaths of real estate to the north and west of the city center."

Who enabled the city to undertake this endeavor? Was it not the Common Council, elected by citizens, responding to their needs?

"Advocates of the city seem to believe that support for the city means forcing others to pay for whatever stupidity city politicians want to promote. It's never going to happen."

Actually, it DID happen. Perhaps the professor has never set foot in Miller Park. Again, this "stupidity" is reflective of the desires of a populace who votes into office representatives to create policies for the welfare of the group.

Dad29 said...

Actually, the State of Wisconsin "enabled" Milwaukee to annex Granville.

And you're right about Miller Park, but you forgot the elephant in that room: MMSD--another State-blessed grand larceny.

I don't have to tell you which party ran State gummint at the times, do I?

Keith Schmitz said...

It's not that simple and I hope you didn't purposely make it so.

The reason why white COULD make the move was because of a number of government programs which made it so -- FHA loans, GI Bill and the federal highway program to name a few -- all almost unavailable to people of color.

I'll be you know that.

John Mitchell said...

“Actually, the State of Wisconsin "enabled" Milwaukee to annex Granville.”

In reality, the residents of each location each had a referendum on this matter. Both voted in favor of consolidation. For our feeble minded friend, that is called democracy in action.

The town board disagreed with the citizen decision. The Supreme Court then adjudicated the matter using past precedent. There was no “enabling”.

“MMSD--another State-blessed grand larceny.”

Irrelevant to the thread.

“I don't have to tell you which party ran State gummint at the times, do I?”

And I don’t have to tell you what axe YOU have to grind, do I? SMILE!

Dad29 said...

"The Supreme Court then adjudicated the matter using past precedent"


By the way, no domestic gummint is a "democracy."

Nice rhetorical try.

John Mitchell said...


You'll have to do much better than simply providing a Latin phrase. Deflect much?

"By the way, no domestic gummint is a "democracy.""

Citizens in a locality vote for candidates who run for office. It's called representative democracy. You must have been asleep in your Civics class at Marquette.

Anonymous said...

Having had several days to read and think about the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor (invalidating DOMA), I can say this.
Whatever you think about same sex marriage, this is an extraordinary and, in many ways, deeply disturbing opinion. Even if you don’t like DOMA, you should be wary of the manner of its demise.

When the Supreme Court strikes down legislation, it ought to have clear constitutional warrant for doing so. It should be able to point to a particular constitutional problem and analyze it in a way that it would be willing to apply in other circumstances.

In Windsor, the Court (apprently) relied on the Equal Protection guarantee of the 5th Amendment, but it applied it in a way that cut the Court loose from any mooring within the Constitution as it is traditionally understood.

The equal protection clause has never been regarded as a warrant to strike down any law that treats two groups of people differently in a way that the Court does not like. Indeed, in the absence of a distinction drawn on a suspect basis such as race, religion or gender, legislative distinctions are to be stricken only if they are irrational.

Because the Court has never held that sexual orientation is such a "suspect" classification, DOMA could be struck down only if it could be called irrational – something that no reasonable person could support.

That is precisely what the Court did and it is why Justice Scalia, in a masterful dissent, called the decision "jaw-dropping."

With virtually no analysis of the reasons advanced in support of DOMA (indeed, he does not even describe them), Kennedy concludes that the only purpose for DOMA was to "disparage," "demean" and "humiliate" a "politically unpopular group" as "unworthy." As Justice Scalia put it, Kennedy effectively calls anyone who disagrees on same sex marriage "an enemy of human decency."

One would think that, if Justice Kennedy wanted to enshrine such a judgment into constitutional law, he would have at least described the arguments advanced by opponents and demonstrate that no rational person could ever believe them. He did not, choosing instead to pick a few snippets of legislative history suggesting that some advocates of DOMA wished to defend traditional morality – something which, in the span of a few short years, has apparently been transformed into hate. Presumably Justice Kennedy, a practicing Catholic, has decided that his church is a monster; a purveyor of doctrine that could only be held by "hateful hearts."

This is astonishing arrogance. It establishes the Court as the ultimate arbiter of conscience; of what views can and cannot be held in civilized society. Today, it is opposition to same sex marriage. Tomorrow it may be whatever offends the sensibilities of five Ivy League lawyers.

Even if you favor same-sex marriage, you should not favor that.

Rick Esenberg, a RightWisconsin contributor, is the founder and current President and General Counsel of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty