Was Bobby Rush Unfairly Singled Out for His Hoodie on the House Floor?

Was Bobby Rush Unfairly Singled Out for His Hoodie on the House Floor?

House lawmakers take sides on whether Bobby Rush should have been removed from the House floor for wearing a hoodie to protest the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

Published March 30, 2012

Most lawmakers on Capitol Hill share Rep. Bobby Rush’s outrage over the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. But when it comes to the way he expressed it this week, opinions vary.


The Illinois Democrat was removed from the House floor Wednesday for wearing a hooded sweatshirt to protest the shooting and make a statement about racial profiling. The act violated the chamber’s dress code, which prohibits hats.


Outspoken Rep. Allen West (R-Florida), in an interview on The Laura Ingraham Show Thursday, called it “immature gimmickry” and said that it initially caused alarm among security offices.


But some Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members believe Rush was treated unfairly because lawmakers routinely go on the floor inappropriately dressed without being forced to leave. In a Fox News interview, CBC Chairman Emanuel Cleaver (D-Missouri) said that he plans to send House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) a “friendly” note asking him to enforce the dress code across the board.


“Whenever rules are not enforced, you create the opportunity for somebody to believe they have been singled out. You see during late night votes, people stand in the back with jeans and no jackets and no ties,” he said, adding that Rush could have been shown some deference because he was speaking about Martin.


Boehner defended Rush’s removal during his weekly press conference Thursday, arguing that the rules are evenly enforced.


 “I’ve asked members on both sides of the aisle to leave the floor myself. I know the sergeant at arms has asked members to leave the floor,” he said. “We expect all members to follow the rules, and the rules make it clear that members are to be on the floor in proper business attire.”


House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) also weighed in at her weekly news conference, praising Rush for being courageous despite knowing he’d be ejected.


"He quickly left the floor, he wasn't contentious about it," she said. "But he made his point. He called attention to a situation in our country that needs to be addressed in a way that a man in a suit and tie might not be able to do."


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(Photo: AP Photo/House Television)

Written by Joyce Jones


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