South Carolina's two Republican U.S. senators, as well as the congressman representing the area, all skipped a recent event in Charleston honoring a judge who helped dismantle segregation in the state.
At the event on April 11, officials unveiled a statue honoring U.S. District Judge Julius Waties Waring, who passed away in 1968. He is best known for his eloquent dissent in a 1951 school desegregation case, in which he wrote, "Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." The U.S. Supreme Court later adopted Waring's line when it ruled against segregation in Brown v. Board of Education.
According to The Post and Courier, the unveiling attracted a significant number of dignitaries, including Attorney General Eric Holder. But both Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) declined to attend, as did Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), who represents Charleston. All three had been invited to attend. A staffer for Scott went in the senator's place.
Scott is currently one of just two African-American Republicans in the Senate and the first from the South since Reconstruction.
Graham told The Post and Courier that he had "something ... planned several months before." His campaign specified that he had a large event in the afternoon.
Scott's spokesman, according to the paper, said the senator "had some previously scheduled meetings in Dorchester County that day, and then some personal things that needed attending."
And Sanford's spokesman told The Post and Courier that "he spent that Friday working in his D.C. office before driving to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville to attend parent's weekend with his son, Marshall."
At The Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky noted that although, yes, politicians do have scheduling issues, Graham, Scott and Sanford "could have found a way to make it to Charleston if it really mattered to them."
"[I]t seems as if they didn’t go because, well, no one they knew and cared about wanted them to go. For Graham, certainly, locked in a primary fight against Tea Partiers, but really for any South Carolina Republican no good could possibly come of attending a celebration of one of the state’s most important liberals," Tomasky wrote.
"Meanwhile, across our United States, schools are resegregating at a record clip, thanks to the Republican appointees who constitute a Supreme Court majority that believes trying to desegregate schools by edict is nearly as malevolent as the old practice of segregating them," he added. "The resegregation is happening faster, surprise surprise, down South than anywhere else. What they seem to need are more tributes to figures like Waring, and Republicans in particular are the people who need to attend them."