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The Civil Rights Act of 1964

It was enacted to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans to fully participate in elections and vote, an area where Blacks rights were consistently interfered with. Initially, the act lacked enforcement capability; however, Congress addressed these issues in subsequent years. Congress asserted its legislative power over the states to grant all US citizens the same privileges, and equal protection, as stated under the Fourteenth Amendment. Title IX of the Act made it easier for federal courts to establish jurisdiction over such cases due to jury bias, judicial misconduct where judges were segregationists and all- white juries.

Voting

Prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Blacks encountered great difficulties whenever they tried to vote Although Blacks had the legal right to vote most found it very difficult to exercise their rights. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it illegal to apply different registration requirements on voter applications for Blacks.

Racial Segregation in Schools

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 encouraged the ending of racial segregation in educational institutions. The Act also granted the Attorney General of the United States the power to file lawsuits against those who would infringe upon the rights protected by the Act.

Desegregation and Busing

Some lawmakers were concerned that the provisions in the Act would result in forced busing, in order to meet specified quotas for each race in US schools. Those in favor of the Act maintained that the bill would not contain any legislative language that authorized such actions; two amendments were written intended to ban forced busing. The author of the amendments, Hubert Humphrey, stated that busing would be an action that involved handling people and children based on their race, which would be unlawful. Despite these measures, school districts in the South began to utilize forced busingas soon as two years after the passage of the Act.

Federally Funded Agencies

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned discrimination on the part of governmental agencies that receive funding from the federal government. Agencies that engage in discriminatory actions run the risk of losing their federal funding.

Women’s Rights

The Act made it unlawful to discriminate against an individual based on their sex. One year earlier, Congress passed legislation that made it illegal to give higher or lower wages to individuals based on their sex.  With the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, it became illegal to discriminate against women based on their sex.

Limitations

  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned discrimination based on sex, race, color, or country of origin in business establishments such as restaurants, hotels, motels, and theaters; however, “private” clubs were exempted from the Act. The term “private,” though, was not defined in the act, leaving interpretation open.
  • The Act’s ban on discrimination on the part of employers does not extend to employers who have less than fifteen employees.
  • Employers are allowed to discriminate in certain situations, where a certain protected trait is a requirement that is an integral part of the job. These situations, however, were defined very narrowly, to prevent abuse.