Published On: Fri, May 23rd, 2014

50 Democratic Senators send letter to NFL to change ‘racist’ Redskins name. Is this listed in Article I, Section 8?

On Thursday, 50 of our elected leaders in the US Senate sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to formally endorse a name change of the Washington Redskins–to remove the “racial slur”.

Harry Reid caricature by donkeyhotey donkeyhotey@wordpress.com

Harry Reid caricature by donkeyhotey [email protected]

This Senate action was kicked off by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) trying to piggyback on the recent action in the NBA and the racist statement debacle with LA Clippers owner, Donald Sterling.

Some excerpts from the letter include: “Today, we urge you and the National Football League to send the same clear message as the NBA did: that racism and bigotry have no place in professional sports.  It’s time for the NFL to endorse a name change for the Washington, D.C. football team.

“The despicable comments made by Mr. Sterling have opened up a national conversation about race relations. We believe this conversation is an opportunity for the NFL to take action to remove the racial slur from the name of one of its marquee franchises.

“This is a matter of tribal sovereignty – and Indian Country has spoken clearly on this issue.Tribes have worked for generations to preserve the right to speak their languages and perform their sacred ceremonies. Yet every Sunday during football season, the Washington, D.C. football team mocks their culture. The NFL can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur.”

Senators who signed the letter include: Cantwell, Reid, Jon Tester (D-MT), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), John Walsh (D-MT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Carl Levin (D-MI), Mark Begich (D-AK), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Christopher Murphy (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tom Udall (D-NM), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Angus King (I-ME), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Amy Klobuchar, (D-MN), Al Franken (D-MN), Edward Markey (D-MA), Mark Udall (D-CO), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tom Carper (D-DE), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kay Hagan (D-NC), and Mary Landrieu (D-LA). Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) also sent a separate letter to Goodell calling for a name change.

There are many, many issues that should be tackled by our members of Congress, but is this one of them?

Remember when the Congress got right in the middle of the professional baseball steroid controversy where the House Government Reform Committee, which had zero jurisdiction over sports or health care, held hearings into steroid use in Major League Baseball?

Although, as of today, the US Senators are not attempting to “force” the change, one has to ask, is this a constitutional role of any member of Congress?

Clearly, the answer is no. Let’s just look at the 18 clauses of Article I, Section 8, which details what areas the Congress has authority and responsibility:

1:  The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

2:  To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

3:  To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

4:  To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

5:  To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

6:  To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

7:  To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

8:  To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

9:  To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

10:  To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

11:  To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

12:  To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

13:  To provide and maintain a Navy;

14:  To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

15:  To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

16:  To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

17:  To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;–And

18:  To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Not there? So why would 50 US Senators attempt to get in the middle of a private business’ name? There must be political points out there to be had.

However, recent polls show that most people want the Redskins to retain there name. As Politico reports today, a poll conducted by the Associated Press in April of last year showed that four in five Americans do not want the name changed, while only 11 percent said it should be. Similarly, a poll by the left-leaning Public Policy Polling, released in January, showed that 71 percent were against changing the name.

How about leaving it up to the market? If ticket holders and residents of the metro-DC area find it offensive and racist, they will stop buying tickets and merchandise, which would affect owner Daniel Snyder’s wallet and a business decision would have to be made to maintain the viability of the business of his sports franchise.

Just as a side, an article by David Skinner in Slate last December does a good job of detailing the history of the Redskins name.


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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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