CHAPTER 6  Civil Rights: Equal Protection Under


the Law


Key Terms


·        Affirmative action – programs for minorities supported by a government  as a means of providing equality under the law

·        Americans with Disabilities Act (1991) – act that required employers, schools, and public buildings to reasonably accommodate the physical needs of handicapped individuals by providing such things as ramps and elevators with appropriate facilities

·        Brandeis Brief - a friend of the court opinion offered by Louis Brandeis, in the Supreme Court case Muller v Oregon (1908), which spoke about inherent differences between men and women in the workplace

·        Civil Rights – the application of equal protection under the law to individuals

·        De facto segregation  - segregation of schools and other public facilities through circumstance with no law supporting it

·        De jure segregation – segregation by law, made illegal by Brown v Board of Education

·        Immigration Act of 1991 – act that shifted the quota of immigrants to Europe and aimed to attract immigrants who were trained workers

·        Jim Crow laws – legislation that legalized segregation even after the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment

·        Nationalization of the Bill of Rights – a judicial doctrine of the Fourteenth Amendment that applied the Bill of Rights to the states in matters such as life, liberty, and property

·        Plessy v Ferguson (1896) – case that ruled that states had the right to impose “separate but equal” facilities on its citizens as well as create other laws that segregated the races

·        Seneca Falls Convention – in 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton led the fight for political suffrage and supported a doctrine very similar in nature to the Declaration of Independence called the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions. It became a rallying document in the fight for women’s rights.

·        Separate but equal – the judicial precedent established in the Plessy v Ferguson decision that enabled states to interpret the equal protection provision of the Fourteenth Amendment as a means of establishing segregation

·        Suffrage – the right to vote guaranteed to African-Americans in the Fourteenth Amendment and women in the Nineteenth Amendment




­       Civil war solved problem of slavery, but many states still passed Jim Crow laws

­       Took landmark case Brown v Board of Education to make any progress in civil rights

­       Many minority groups have faced and still face discrimination


Equal Protection to All


­       Pre-Fourteenth Amendment era, Bill of Rights was only protections citizens had

­       Dred Scott case in 1857 established slaves as property based on the due process of the fifth amendment

­       Took 50 years to reverse Plessy v Ferguson



­       Brown v Board of Education = most significant Supreme Court decision in history of the Court for black civil rights – redefined meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment

Put end to de jure segregation

­       Civil Rights Act of 1964 made discrimination in public accommodations illegal

­       Twenty-Fourth Amendment – made any tax related to the voting process illegal

­       Voting Rights Act – protected the right of African-Americans to vote

­       Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Opening House Act) – made illegal the practice of selling real estate based on race, color, religion, national origin, or sex

­       Swann v Charlotte-Mecklenberg County Schools 1971 – ruled that busing was a legal means of achieving the “all deliberate speed” component of the Brown decision

­       California Board of Regents v Bakke Bakke had been victim of “reverse discrimination” – court voted that this race quota violated Bakke’s equal protection and stated that race cannot be used as the sole basis for determining admission

­       Constitution and Civil Rights Act of 1964 – could be used as a criterion for affirmative action programs

­       The public has been very critical of affirmative action as a means of achieving civil rights for African-Americans and other minority groups

­       1988 – Congress passed civil rights legislation that permitted the fed. Gov’t to take away federal funds from colleges that discriminate

­       Civil Rights Act of 1991 – placed burden on employer to prove that hiring practices are not discriminatory

­       Affirmative action and Clinton presidency – Pres favored a policy of affirmative action that would “mend it, not end it”

­       Some states have gotten rid of affirmative action as a whole i.e. CA with Proposition 209

­       Richmond v Corson 1989 – created the impetus for Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1991




­       Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 – women led fight for political suffrage; adopted The Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions

­       The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan battled for equality of the sexes and ignited a spark for women to begin political organizations like the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the National Women’s Political Caucus

­       Equal Rights Amendment – wanted same guarantees as Fourteenth Amendment

­       Equal Pay Act of 1963 – required men and women to be paid the same wage for the same work

­       Title IX – made sex discrimination in federally funded education programs illegal

Reed v Reed 1971 – state law that favored men over women in the selection of estate’s executor unconstitutional

­       Sexual harassment has been an issue since Anita Hill raised charges against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

­       In the recent past, women have made major advances in the workplace, reaching high-profile government jobs




­       Bowers v Hardwick 1986 – dealt with legality of a GA antisodomy law

­       Colorado adopted an initiative titled Amendment 2 that provided that the state could not adopt any laws providing protected status for homosexuals – Roemer v Evans found this to be unconstitutional

­       Supreme Court voted in 2000 that a homosexual Boy Scout leader could be barred from the position by the Boy Scouts of America’s national organization

­       New Jersey ruled that the Scouts violated NJ’s public accommodation laws

­       Bill Clinton established a military policy of “Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue” – but Congress had a difficult time accepting this establishment and declared part of this policy unconstitutional based on the First Amendment free speech provision and the Fifth Amendment due process provision


Other Minority Groups


­       Senior citizens  lobby against Social Security and Medicare cuts

­       Complaints from senior citizens regarding employer discrimination against them have recently surfaced

­       Age Discrimination acts – 1967 and 1975 civil rights laws made it illegal for any employer to discriminate against people over 40

­       Age Discrimination in Employment Act raised compulsory retirement age to 70

­       Education of All Handicapped Children Act 1975 – gives children the right to an education with appropriate services that meet the needs of specific disabilities

­       Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – required employers, schools, and public buildings to reasonably accommodate the physical needs of handicapped individuals by providing such things as ramps, elevators, and other appropriate facilities

­       Other court cases have given school officials the right to discipline students for using obscenities, search a student suspected of violating school rules, and randomly drug test athletes

­       Title IX and Civil Rights Act prohibit gender discrimination

­       Students have been given more access to government funding to pay for secondary education in return for national service

­       Native Americans – The Bureau of Indian Affairs allows Indians living on reservations to be immune from state and federal laws; Indians are given permission to build casinos on their reservations