The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law, or simply The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights or Lawyers’ Committee, is a civil rights organization founded in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy. The Committee aides in procuring pro-bono legal assistance on high profile cases in the areas of housing discrimination, racial discrimination, affirmative action, and gender discrimination.
Comcast Corporation v. National Association of African American-Owned Media Case
In 2020, Byron Allen and the National Association of African American-Owned Media sued Comcast for $20 billion because the cable network would not carry his network Entertainment Studios Network. In its defense, Comcast stated that it chose not to endorse Entertainment Studios Network’s programming because it prefers to broadcast sports and news entertainment programming and “Entertainment Studios Network” did not carry such programming. Byron Allen sued Comcast because he contended that Comcast had refused to pursue a contract with him out of a racial bias. Allen claimed that this bias violated the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (Section 1981) that guarantees all United States citizens with the same right to enforce and create contracts.
The 9th Circuit court responded that the 1866 (Section 1981) Civil Rights Act would require Entertainment Studios Network to show that race played a partial role in Comcast’s refusal to pursue a contract with them.
The Supreme Court ultimately dismissed the lawsuit because Byron Allen was unable to prove that racial bias played a decisive role or “motivating factor” in Comcast’s refusal to pursue a contract with Entertainment Studios Network. The court provided Allen with two opportunities to produce evidence that Comcast refused to pursue a contract with Entertainment Studios Network based off a claim of racial discrimination. He was unable to provide the requested evidence.
In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Gorsuch for the Comcast Corporation v. National Association of African American-Owned Media, the justices stated that the 1866 (Section 1981) Civil Rights Act did not create an exception in this case. The Supreme Court did not entirely dismiss the case of Entertainment Studios Network. The justices sent the case back down to the 9th Circuit. The Supreme Court stated that the 9th Circuit initially applied the wrong standard for evaluating the discriminatory claim of the Comcast Corporation v. National Association of African American-Owned Media case under the Civil Rights Act.
Entertainment Studios Network later asked the Supreme court to import the “motivating factor” causation test of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the 1866 (Section 1981) Civil Rights Act. The court refused to import this provision into the 1866 Civil Rights Act because both statutes were written under different historical contexts. The Supreme Court justices claimed there was no evidence that the Congresses that passed these separate acts desired them to incorporate the same causation standard at the time they were each written and approved in their respective Congresses. 
The Lawyers Committee’s Brief on the Comcast Corporation v. National Association of African American-Owned Media Case
The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law produced a brief criticizing the Supreme Court’s decision. The Committee argued that the decision was inconsistent with the intentions of the 1866 (Section 1981) Civil Rights Act, and claimed that the decision “weakens our nation’s oldest civil rights statute.” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had disagreed with the decision, arguing that the case would need to be considered in greater detail because Section 1981 requires a court to investigate for discrimination not only in the final decision of a contract but at every stage of a contract’s formation. While Comcast won the initial case, the case could easily be reopened down the road if the Entertainment Studios Network does not drop the suit. This is because the Supreme Court did not completely dismiss the case but only ruled that the 9th circuit incorrectly evaluated the discrimination claim under the standards of Section 1981 and sent it back down to them to correctly apply the standard.