Reparations for Slavery Should Be Rejected
By Edwin A. Locke
A Chicago federal judge was right to dismiss a lawsuit brought by descendants of slaves against corporations that profited from slavery in the 19th century, but the decision did not go far enough. The judge left the door open for further litigation, by implying that it might be legitimate if the plaintiffs could show actual links to the companies in question. No such door should have been left open, because such lawsuits are without merit in principle.
Slavery was abolished in the United States nearly 140 years ago. Those who were slaves are long dead. If claims could be made by anyone who had long-dead relatives who were harmed by someone, then everyone in the entire world could claim compensation for such victimization. But people who were not themselves the object of harm have no right to make any such claim.
And who would be responsible for such unjust compensatory payments? People who are now living who had no role in causing the harm. If people who were not themselves harmed can force people who were not responsible for any harm to pay them "compensation" for the suffering endured by others, then the result is not justice but a double injustice.