A Saturday tweet from Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn went viral after many believed the senator was calling to reinstate racial segregation.
The Texas Senator responded to a tweet by former President Barack Obama that denounced the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, which overturned the 1973 abortion rights case Roe v. Wade. Obama criticized the decision for overturning nearly 50 years of precedent in his post.
Cornyn’s tweet in response said, “Now do Plessy vs Ferguson/Brown vs Board of Education.”
Now do Plessy vs Ferguson/Brown vs Board of Education. https://t.co/hrUYCcIq8Y
— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) June 25, 2022
The Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education partially overruled its 1896 decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, which created the “separate but equal” doctrine that allowed legal racial segregation in the U.S.
In 1954, the Court ruled it was unconstitutional for American public schools and educational facilities to be segregated, overturning the “separate but equal” precedent established under Plessy v. Ferguson.
Cornyn’s tweet received thousands of responses. Most were from people interpreting his tweet as a call to overturn the Supreme Court ruling in Brown, including Democratic Congressman from Texas Joaquin Castro.
“Sounds like you’re arguing for a return to segregated schools, Senator [Cornyn],” wrote Castro.
The senator clarified his meaning in a subsequent tweet: “Thank goodness some SCOTUS precedents are overruled.”
Cornyn also retweeted supporters who came to his defense and pointed out the tweet’s intended meaning.
“No, what he’s saying is that Brown v Board of Education correctly overturned 50+ years of Plessy’s precedent, thereby pointing out that something being precedent for 50 years doesn’t really have anything to do with it being correctly decided,” wrote pollster Logan Dobson in response to a screenshot of Rep. Castro’s tweet.
Cornyn was essentially comparing how the Dobbs v. Jackson ruling overturned the decades-long precedent set in the Roe v. Wade case the same way Brown v. Board of Education overturned the precedent set in Plessy v. Ferguson.
In the former president’s tweet denouncing the Dobbs v. Jackson decision, Obama said reversing the 50-year precedent “relegated the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues — attacking the essential freedoms of millions of Americans.”
After the Supreme Court issued its opinion overruling Roe v. Wade on Friday, Sen. Cornyn issued the following statement:
“Today, the Court has restored one of the core principles of our Constitution with this landmark ruling. This decision correctly returns the authority of states to decide the limits on abortion and will save countless innocent lives,” he said. “I commend the Justices for not bowing to the vicious intimidation campaign waged by the radical Left. I join Texans in celebrating this historic victory for life and the rule of law.”