Nampa Rep. Crane twists history, says Rosa Parks stood up to the feds

“We need to have our Rosa Parks moment,” House Assistant Majority Leader Brent Crane said in Wednesday’s debate against a state-run health exchange, erroneously making the U.S. government the bad guy in America’s history of segregation.

In Crane’s telling, “One little lady got tired of the federal government telling her what to do.”

In fact, Parks defied the City Code of Montgomery, Ala., one of hundreds of  “Jim Crow” segregation laws across the South. Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man on Dec. 1, 1955.

Crane, the No. 3 Republican leader in the House, is in his seventh year in office. If Congressman Raul Labrador runs for governor in 2014, Crane is considered a leading candidate to replace him.

“If I made a mistake I will own it,” Crane said after the House recessed for lunch Thursday. “She was part of the civil rights movement. I’m sorry if I misquoted that.”

Crane said the intent of his argument was clear — that Idaho needs to stand up to an onerous federal  law. “The point I was trying to make is that she said she had had enough and decided to stand up. That’s where I’m at with the federal government.”

Parks’  arrest by Montgomery police is considered the spark that kindled the civil rights movement. The year-long Montgomery bus boycott that followed elevated a young Martin Luther King Jr. to national prominence. The following year, the city’s segregation laws were struck down as unconstitutional, first by a U.S. District judge in Alabama and then by the U.S. Supreme Court. Later, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 to address generations of discrimination against African Americans.

Parks, who would have turned 100 last month, is the first African-American woman to have a statue placed in the U.S. Capitol. The sculpture was unveiled last month by President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Here’s what Crane, R-Nampa, had to say in arguing that Idaho should take inspiration from Parks and refuse to cooperate with the U.S. Affordable Care Act:

“I remind the body that at one point, segregation was legal in the United States. But one little lady got tired of the federal government telling her what to do….I’ve reached that point, Mr. Speaker, that I’m tired of giving in to the federal government. Time and time again we give in to the federal government.

“And I think that maybe it’s time we say to the federal government — or we say as a body — we need to have our Rosa Parks moment. We need to push back against the federal government.”

“Possibly, it’s a Rosa Parks moment that we tell our state agencies (that under) the Idaho Health Care Freedom Act that we will not spend any money or any time of those employees or any resources of the state or anything in that capacity. Maybe we need to tell the federal government, ‘You know what? You can try to come into our state, set up a federal exchange, but our employees are not going to work with you, you’re not going to have that coordination and cooperation with the Department of Health and Welfare, Department of Insurance.’”

Crane said 25 other states that are defaulting to the federal government the operation of online health insurance marketplaces could see Idaho as a leader in the tradition of Parks. “Maybe they’re looking to states like Idaho to say, ‘Join us in that Rosa Parks moment,’ where we will stand up to the federal government and say under no conditions are we going to allow the federal government to be the bully in the room and push the states around.”

The state health exchange measure, House Bill 248, passed 41-29 and is headed to the Senate, where approval is expected. The Senate passed a similar measure last month, 23-12.



Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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