Al Sharpton: 'You Cannot Have Rights Voted On' - It's 'Tyranny By The Majority'

UPDATE AT END OF POST: The Confederacy's Jefferson Davis railed against "the tyranny of the majority" wanting to end slavery.

Al Sharpton on Friday said something that every American on both sides of the aisle should totally fear.

"You cannot have rights voted on," the MSNBC anchor actually said on HBO's Real Time. "You have tyranny by the majority" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

REIHAN SALAM, NATIONAL REVIEW: If one state, if you have the voters of that state actually affirmatively vote for same sex marriage, it would actually change the discussion pretty dramatically. When you look at what happened in the early seventies with Roe v. Wade, there were a lot of folks who favored liberalizing abortion laws and then there was significant numbers of people who didn’t. Now, constitutionalizing, nationalizing that settlement changed the dynamic. And so, something that might have happened state by state in Democratic fashion didn't happen that way and that engendered a huge amount of resentment.

If you have a situation where state by state people’s minds are changing. If you look at people under the age of 40, they favor same sex marriage far, far more than people over that age. If you have it happen in a way where people feel, “You know, we heard the argument,” and people embrace this, fair enough, that argument is lost and, you know, you're not going to be able to reverse that by referendum.

I think that Mo is absolutely right that that is the more stable way, and I think that folks who are advocating same sex marriage should recognize that, because when you have it happen in the courts, it doesn't have the legitimacy that it would if it happened through a popular vote.


As should be obvious, the discussion was dealing with the 9th Circuit Court in California striking down that state's Proposition 8 which made same sex marriages illegal.

National Review's Salam observed that the people's voice in such a controversial issue is essential in actually resolving the matter long term. Here we are almost 40 years after nine justices on the Supreme Court decided the fate of abortion in this country and we're still arguing about it.

As such, maybe citizens' views in such a contentious matter should be required to truly settle it.

Not surprisingly, Sharpton didn't see it that way:

AL SHARPTON: No, but you have tyranny by the majority. You cannot have rights voted on. If you, if you do not, the role of government is to protect people. And if, if you had civil rights voted on, I'd be sitting in the back of the bus and with a bad eye driver you'd be sitting next to me. So don't think about voting for rights.

First off, that was a despicably cheap shot at the dark-skinned Salam who's the son of Bangladeshi immigrants. Sadly, liberals have no problem making racially-insensitive comments aimed at conservatives.

But the rest of Sharpton's point was equally preposterous. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was approved by both chambers of Congress with wide majorities. It passed 289 to 126 in the House and 73 to 27 in the Senate.

Although this didn't come to a popular vote across the nation, at least 535 members of Congress representing the wishes of the electorate decided on this groundbreaking piece of legislation.

That's a far cry from what happened Tuesday when three judges - not appointed by the people of California but instead hand-picked by governors - overruled the wishes of millions of citizens they're supposed to serve.

If this is what Sharpton thinks is justice, and he really believes "You cannot have rights voted on," it's a total disgrace that any news outlet - even the farce that is MSNBC - gives him a national platform to speak such nonsense.

*****Update: Eagle-eyed Twitter follower @BrettBannor accurately notes that in his February 22, 1862, inaugural address, the Confederacy's Jefferson Davis also argued against "the tyranny of the majority." He was referring to the majority's wish to give slaves the right to be free. 

I wonder if Sharpton would rail against "the tyranny of the majority" in this instance.

Associate Editor’s note: As you are likely aware, since the financial collapse of 2008, charities and non-profit organizations have seen a sharp reduction in donations. Although the environment has improved, contributions are still nowhere near where they were prior to the recession. Unfortunately, the Media Research Center has not been immune. With this in mind, your support has become more important than ever. With a critical election approaching, the liberal media needs to be monitored 24/7. As we have been predicting for months, the press are willing to do anything to get their beloved politicians elected and/or reelected. As such, we need your help to fight this fight. Any contribution, even $10, is greatly appreciated. Please consider a tax-deductible gift to the Media Research Center to help us battle the liberal media. Thank you.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.