Civil Rights Legislation Weakened by the Supreme Court

In the last week the Supreme Court has made inroads into invalidating the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In an 8-1 decision   the Court ruled that small government entities (mostly in the South) have a new opportunity to seek exemptions from the Voting Rights Act. They did not rule on the constitutionality of the entire Voting Rights statute, but does open the possibility these southern principalities to sue for removal federal supervision of their voting practices. Uncle Thomas was the only dissenting vote stating in his brief  “the violence, intimidation and subterfuge that led Congress to pass Section 5 and this court to uphold it no longer remains.” One only has to revisit the complaints from Florida black voters in the 1984  election and the demonization of ACORN last year to  see that the handkerchief head of the Supreme Court is wrong.

On Monday, the Court has ruled that white firefighters in New Haven, Conn., were unfairly denied promotions because of their race, reversing a decision that high court nominee Sonia Sotomayor endorsed as an appeals court judge. Fifty six firefighters passed an exam for captains and leutenants including 41 whites, 22 blacks and 18 Hispanics. But only 17 whites and two Hispanics could expect promotion. The city of New Haven decided to disregard the test for fear of lawsuits for violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is intended to root out discriminatory policies.  There is a long history of discrimination in the firefighting ranks and now there is a greater burden on minorities to prove that hiring practices are discriminatory. Any business, school or institution can claim that they are not discriminating intentionally against lawsuits brought these groups. The ruling could alter employment practices nationwide.

Some may say these decisions are proof that America has come a long way and it has. But we are only 44 years out of legalized segregation nationwide and the recent rash of public officials who have made jokes and sent racist e-mail about the first family  is any indication, this country still does not have liberty and justice for all. The landmark of a black president does not change segregation in education or guarantee equal protection under the law. These decisions do not measure how far we have come, they are instances that this country wishes to forget the centuries where our perfect union was an illusion.


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