|Civil Rights Act of 1964|
|Long title:||An Act to enforce the constitutional right to vote, to confer jurisdiction upon the district courts of the United States of America to provide relief against discrimination in public accommodations, to authorize the Attorney General to institute suits to protect constitutional rights in public facilities and public education, to extend the Commission on Civil Rights, to prevent discrimination in federally assisted programs, to establish a Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity, and for other purposes.|
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Pub.L. 88-352, 78 Stat. 241, July 2, 1964) was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that outlawed racial segregation in schools, public places, and employment. Conceived to help African Americans, the bill was amended prior to passage to protect women, and explicitly included white people for the first time. It also created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
In order to circumvent limitations on congressional power to enforce the Equal Protection Clause imposed by the Supreme Court in the Civil Rights Cases, the law was passed under the Commerce Clause, which had been interpreted by the courts as a broad grant of congressional power. Once the Act was implemented, its effects were far reaching and had tremendous long-term impacts on the whole country. It prohibited discrimination in public facilities, in government, and in employment, invalidating the Jim Crow laws in the southern U.S. It became illegal to compel segregation of the races in schools, housing, or hiring. Powers given to enforce the bill were initially weak, but were supplemented during later years.
The bill was introduced by President John F. Kennedy in his civil rights speech of June 12, 1963, in which he asked for legislation "giving all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public—hotels, restaurants, theaters, retail stores, and similar establishments," as well as "greater protection for the right to vote."
He then sent a bill to Congress on June 19. Emulating the Civil Rights Act of 1875, Kennedy's civil rights bill included provisions to ban discrimination in public accommodations, and to enable the U.S. Attorney General to join in lawsuits against state governments which operated segregated school systems, among other provisions. But it did not include a number of provisions deemed essential by civil rights leaders including protection against police brutality, ending discrimination in private employment, or granting the Justice Department power to initiate desegregation or job discrimination lawsuits.
Passage in the House of RepresentativesEdit
The bill was sent to the House of Representatives, and referred to the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Emmanuel Celler. After a series of hearings on the bill, Celler's committee greatly strengthened the act, adding provisions to ban racial discrimination in employment, providing greater protection to black voters, eliminating segregation in all publicly owned facilities (not just schools), and strengthening the anti-segregation clauses regarding public facilities such as lunch counters. They also added authorization for the Attorney General to file lawsuits to protect individuals against the deprivation of any rights secured by the Constitution or U.S. law. In essence, this was the controversial "Title III" that had been removed from the 1957 and 1960 Acts. Civil rights organizations pressed hard for this provision because it could be used to protect peaceful protesters and black voters from police brutality and suppression of free speech rights.
The bill was reported out of the Judiciary Committee in November 1963, and referred to the Rules Committee, whose chairman, Howard W. Smith, a Democrat from Virginia, indicated his intention to keep the bill bottled up indefinitely. It was at this point that President Kennedy was assassinated. The new president, Lyndon Johnson, utilized his experience in legislative politics and the bully pulpit he wielded as president in support of the bill.
Because of Smith's stalling of the bill in the Rules Committee, Celler filed a petition to discharge the bill from the Committee. Only if a majority of members signed the discharge petition would the bill move directly to the House floor without consideration by Smith's committee. Initially Celler had a difficult time acquiring the signatures necessary, as even many congressmen who supported the civil rights bill itself were cautious about violating House procedure with the discharge petition. By the time of the 1963 winter recess, 50 signatures were still needed.
On the return from the winter recess, however, matters took a significant turn. The pressure of the civil rights movement, the March on Washington, and the President's public advocacy of the Act had made a difference of opinion in Representatives' home districts, and soon it became apparent that the petition would acquire the necessary signatures. To prevent the humiliation of the success of the petition, Chairman Smith allowed the bill to pass through the Rules Committee. The bill was brought to a vote in the House on February 10, 1964, and passed by a vote of 290 to 130, and sent to the Senate.
Passage in the SenateEditJohnson, who wanted the bill passed as soon as possible, ensured that the bill would be quickly considered by the Senate. Normally, the bill would have been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator James O. Eastland, Democrat from Mississippi. Under Eastland's care, it seemed impossible that the bill would reach the Senate floor. Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield took a novel approach to prevent the bill from being relegated to Judiciary Committee limbo. Having initially waived a second reading of the bill, which would have led to it being immediately referred to Judiciary, Mansfield gave the bill a second reading on February 26, 1964, and then proposed, in the absence of precedent for instances when a second reading did not immediately follow the first, that the bill bypass the Judiciary Committee and immediately be sent to the Senate floor for debate. Although this parliamentary move led to a brief filibuster, the senators eventually let it pass, preferring to concentrate their resistance on passage of the bill itself.
The bill came before the full Senate for debate on March 30, 1964 and the "Southern Bloc" of southern Senators led by Richard Russell (D-GA) launched a filibuster to prevent its passage. Said Russell: "We will resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would have a tendency to bring about social equality and intermingling and amalgamation of the races in our (Southern) states."
After 54 days of filibuster, Senators Everett Dirksen (R-IL), Thomas Kuchel (R-CA), Hubert Humphrey (D-MN), and Mike Mansfield (D-MT) introduced a substitute bill that they hoped would attract enough Republican votes to end the filibuster. The compromise bill was weaker than the House version in regard to government power to regulate the conduct of private business, but it was not so weak as to cause the House to reconsider the legislation.
On the morning of June 10, 1964, Senator Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) completed an address that he had begun 14 hours and 13 minutes earlier opposing the legislation. Until then, the measure had occupied the Senate for 57 working days, including six Saturdays. A day earlier, Democratic Whip Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, the bill's manager, concluded he had the 67 votes required at that time to end the debate and end the filibuster. With six wavering senators providing a four-vote victory margin, the final tally stood at 71 to 29. Never in history had the Senate been able to muster enough votes to cut off a filibuster on a civil rights bill. And only once in the 37 years since 1927 had it agreed to cloture for any measure.
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Shortly thereafter, the substitute (compromise) bill passed the Senate by a vote of 73-27, and quickly passed through the House-Senate conference committee, which adopted the Senate version of the bill. The conference bill was passed by both houses of Congress, and was signed into law by President Johnson on July 2, 1964. Legend has it that as he put down his pen Johnson told an aide, referring to the Democratic Party, "We have lost the South for a generation."
Totals are in "Yea-Nay" format:
- The original House version: 290-130 (69%-31%)
- The Senate version: 73-27 (73%-27%)
- The Senate version, as voted on by the House: 289-126 (70%-30%)
The original House version:
- Democratic Party: 152-96 (61%-39%)
- Republican Party: 138-34 (80%-20%)
The Senate version:
- Democratic Party: 46-21 (69%-31%)
- Republican Party: 27-6 (82%-18%)
The Senate version, voted on by the House:
- Democratic Party: 153-91 (63%-37%)
- Republican Party: 136-35 (80%-20%)
By party and regionEdit
Note: "Southern", as used in this section, refers to members of Congress from the eleven states that made up the Confederate States of America in the American Civil War. "Northern" refers to members from the other 39 states, regardless of the geographic location of those states.
The original House version:
- Southern Democrats: 7-87 (7%-93%)
- Southern Republicans: 0-10 (0%-100%)
- Northern Democrats: 145-9 (94%-6%)
- Northern Republicans: 138-24 (85%-15%)
The Senate version:
- Southern Democrats: 1-20 (5%-95%) (only Senator Ralph Yarborough of Texas voted in favor)
- Southern Republicans: 0-1 (0%-100%) (this was Senator John Tower of Texas)
- Northern Democrats: 45-1 (98%-2%) (only Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia opposed the measure)
- Northern Republicans: 27-5 (84%-16%) (Senators Bourke Hickenlooper of Iowa, Barry Goldwater of Arizona, Edwin L. Mechem of New Mexico, Milward L. Simpson of Wyoming, and Norris H. Cotton of New Hampshire opposed the measure)
The prohibition on sex discrimination was added by Howard W. Smith, a powerful Virginian Democrat who chaired the House Rules Committee and who had strongly opposed the Civil Rights Act. The addition of "sex" to title VII is commonly described as a cynical attempt to defeat the bill by inserting objectionable amendments. Smith knew Republicans, who had included equal rights for women in their party's platform since 1944, would vote for the amendment along with southern Democrats and get it in the final bill. Smith thought that northern Democrats would not vote for the bill due to the inclusion of gender, because the clause was opposed by labor unions which the northern Democrats aligned themselves with. Representative Carl Elliott of Alabama later claimed, "Smith didn't give a damn about women's rights...he was trying to knock off votes either then or down the line because there was always a hard core of men who didn't favor women's rights," and the Congressional Record records that Smith was greeted by laughter when he introduced the amendment.
Smith nevertheless claimed that he sincerely supported the amendment and made serious arguments in its favor. The claim was not entirely ungrounded, as Smith had long been close to Alice Paul, a women's rights activist who urged him to include sex as a protected category. The amendment had been forcefully promoted by the National Woman's Party and its allies in Congress, who had no desire to scuttle the Civil Rights Act. Thus, as William Rehnquist explained in Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, “The prohibition against discrimination based on sex was added to Title VII at the last minute on the floor of the House of Representatives...the bill quickly passed as amended, and we are left with little legislative history to guide us in interpreting the Act’s prohibition against discrimination based on ‘sex.’” 
However, the idea that banishing sex-based discrimination was ridiculous is undermined by the passage, just one year prior, of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) by the same Congress. The EPA had, as its main objective, abolished wage differentials based on sex. It seemed unlikely that, the following year, the very same Congress would view sex-based discrimination as ridiculous or that any member of that Congress would believe that the addition of sex as a protected class would scuttle the bill.
One of the most "damaging" arguments by the bill's opponents was that once passed, the bill would require forced busing to achieve certain racial quotas in schools. Proponents of the bill, such as Emanuel Celler and Jacob Javits, said that the bill would not authorize such measures. Leading sponsor Hubert Humphrey wrote two amendments specifically designed to outlaw busing. Humphrey said "if the bill were to compel it, it would be a violation [of the Constitution], because it would be handling the matter on the basis of race and we would be transporting children because of race." While Javits said any government official who sought to use the bill for busing purposes "would be making a fool of himself," two years later the Department of Health, Education and Welfare said that Southern school districts would be required to meet mathematical ratios of students by busing.
The bill divided and engendered a long-term change in the demographics of both parties. President Johnson realized that supporting this bill would risk losing the South's overwhelming support of the Democratic Party. Both Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Vice President Johnson had pushed for the introduction of the civil rights legislation. Johnson told Kennedy aide Ted Sorensen that "I know the risks are great and we might lose the South, but those sorts of states may be lost anyway." Senator Richard Russell, Jr. warned President Johnson that his strong support for the civil rights bill "will not only cost you the South, it will cost you the election." The South indeed started to vote increasingly Republican after 1964. However, political scientists Richard Johnston and Byron Schafer have argued that this development was based more on economics than on race. 
Although majorities in both parties voted for the bill, there were notable exceptions. Republican senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona voted against the bill, remarking, "You can't legislate morality." Goldwater had supported previous attempts to pass Civil Rights legislation in 1957 and 1960. The reason for his opposition to the 1964 bill was Title II, which he viewed as a violation of individual liberty. Most Democrats from the Southern states opposed the bill, including Senators Albert Gore Sr. (D-TN), J. William Fulbright (D-AR), and Robert Byrd (D-WV).
Major features of the Civil Rights Act of 1964Edit
(The full text of the Act is available online.)
Title I Edit
Barred unequal application of voter registration requirements.
- "It shall be the duty of the judge designated pursuant to this section to assign the case for hearing at the earliest practicable date and to cause the case to be in every way expedited."'
Title I did not eliminate literacy tests, which were one of the main methods used to exclude Black voters in the South, nor did it address economic retaliation, police repression, or physical violence against nonwhite voters. While the Act did require that voting rules and procedures be applied equally to all races, it failed to challenge the fundamental concept of voter "qualification." That is, it accepted the idea that citizens do not have an automatic right to vote but rather might have to meet some standard beyond citizenship.
Outlawed discrimination in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters, and all other public accommodations engaged in interstate commerce; exempted private clubs without defining the term "private."
Prohibited state and municipal governments from denying access to public facilities on grounds of race, religion, gender, or ethnicity.
Encouraged the desegregation of public schools and authorized the U.S. Attorney General to file suits to enforce said act.
Prevented discrimination by government agencies that receive federal funding. If an agency is found in violation of Title VI, that agency can lose its federal funding.
This title declares it to be the policy of the United States that discrimination on the ground of race, color, or national origin shall not occur in connection with programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance and authorizes and directs the appropriate Federal departments and agencies to take action to carry out this policy. This title is not intended to apply to foreign assistance programs. Section 601 – This section states the general principle that no person in the United States shall be excluded from participation in or otherwise discriminated against on the ground of race, color, or national origin under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
Section 602 directs each Federal agency administering a program of Federal financial assistance by way of grant, contract, or loan to take action pursuant to rule, regulation, or order of general applicability to effectuate the principle of section 601 in a manner consistent with the achievement of the objectives of the statute authorizing the assistance. In seeking the effect compliance with its requirements imposed under this section, an agency is authorized to terminate or to refuse to grant or to continue assistance under a program to any recipient as to whom there has been an express finding pursuant to a hearing of a failure to comply with the requirements under that program, and it may also employ any other means authorized by law. However, each agency is directed first to seek compliance with its requirements by voluntary means.
Section 603 provides that any agency action taken pursuant to section 602 shall be subject to such judicial review as would be available for similar actions by that agency on other grounds. Where the agency action consists of terminating or refusing to grant or to continue financial assistance because of a finding of a failure of the recipient to comply with the agency's requirements imposed under section 602, and the agency action would not otherwise be subject to judicial review under existing law, judicial review shall nevertheless be available to any person aggrieved as provided in section 10 of the Administrative Procedure Act (5 USC 1009). The
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