White Actors Could Sue ‘Hamilton’ Production For Reverse Discrimination

Hamilton cast

White Actors Could Sue ‘Hamilton’ Production For Reverse Discrimination

Back in 2015, musical Hamilton, about the life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, became a Broadway box-office smash and racked up a plethora of awards along the way. The musical is largely notable for its conscious decision to cast non-white actors to portray various other Founding Fathers and historical figures. Well, apparently that inspiring show of diversity could be the very thing that finds Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda on the receiving end of a lawsuit.

Aside from the catchy songs, courtesy of various inspirations from R&B, pop, hip-hop and soul, the main thing that makes groundbreaking musical Hamilton so well-loved is the fact that it purposefully features a predominately non-white cast in the most crucial roles to tell the story of the founding of America.

According to reports, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda could potentially be at risk for being sued for only casting African-Americans in the role of George Washington and others in his award-winning musical. In a petition asking the high court to tackle a $10 billion case, Charter Communications is asserting its First Amendment right to include racial considerations in determining what programming it should carry. Charter Communications, one of the biggest cable operators in the nation, is telling the Supreme Court that if a recent Ninth Circuit ruling is left in place, white actors could be able to sue the Hamilton production with a host of discrimination lawsuits.

In a statement regarding the case, Paul Clement, who is representing Charter Communications, had this to say:

“The musical ‘Hamilton’ is notable for its creator’s decision to cast exclusively minority actors as the Founding Fathers. A refusal to contract with a white actor to play George Washington cannot be made an antidiscrimination violation without profoundly undermining First Amendment values.”

The lawsuit’s petition to the court added further:

“Although decisions about content are often unrelated to the characteristics of the speaker (and generally should be), clearly that is not always the case when it comes to editorial decisions in circumstances where race and content are related. Indeed, plaintiffs themselves draw a connection between racial identity and content when they assert that their suit is intended to draw attention ‘voices of African American-owned media companies.’”

Charter Communications legal brief, also states how the Ninth Circuit ruling would allow white actors who are unqualified to be a part of the production:

“Allowing a discrimination lawsuit when race places a factor, however small, and ignoring editorial judgment “rides roughshod over First Amendment protections. [I]t would allow even an objectively terrible white actor to bring an action for being denied a part in ‘Hamilton’ even if factors other than race would provide an obvious explanation for why the actor would not get a part as a Founding Father in the minority cast of ‘Hamilton’ (or in any kind of cast for any other play). Left in place, the Ninth Circuit’s reasoning will have a devastating chilling effect on the free speech rights of all speech platforms — from magazines, to websites, to bookstores and theaters — that select and promote speech originally produced by others.”

Charter Communications also uses popular African-American works to cite its point, saying then that Invisible Man and The Color Purple would be very different works if they were written by white men.

Hamilton Cast Addresses VP Elect Mike Pence

Charter Communications is also facing a discrimination challenge over its refusal to make any competitive offers to carry networks owned by Byron Allen‘s Entertainment Studios Network. That lawsuit resulted in $10 billion in claimed damages, with Allen surviving both a motion to dismiss and subsequent review from the Ninth Circuit.

What do you think of white actors potentially suing Hamilton for reverse discrimination? Let us know in the comments!

Authored by: Danielle Jennings