5 ways the Civil Rights Act is currently under attack

Rights, News

July 2, 2017 marks the 53rd anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the landmark law that made acts of discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin illegal. The details and implementations of the law have been sources of contention, but it has withstood many attacks over the last six decades.

Here are five of the most prominent challenges to civil rights in America taking place right now.

Race-based policing

Racial imbalances in incarceration do not reflect racial imbalance in crimes committed. Vanity Fair surveyed court cases, journalistic investigations, and academic studies and confirmed that police bias was a significant—or primary—factor in 18 different measures, ranging from the likelihood of getting pulled over to being fatally shot by police while unarmed.

National origin-based travel bans

President Donald Trump’s first attempt at a travel ban against travelers from certain Muslim-majority nations notoriously generated confusion and fear, then crashed and burned when states sued and won a nationwide restraining order blocking its enforcement.

Since then, the saga has involved the original restraining order being upheld against the administration’s challenge, federal judges in Maryland and Hawaii blocking a watered-down version of the ban issued in March, and the 9th Circuit court subsequently upholding and expanding on that ruling. Now the whole mess is headed to the Supreme Court, despite a recent Twitter-storm that all but proves President Trump’s intent is, in fact, to ban travelers from particular countries, which has thus far been found to be constitutionally untenable.

Faith-based discrimination

Inspired by Hobby Lobby’s 2014 lawsuit to avoid paying for women’s health care under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), a number of states have begun floating religious freedom bills. These laws would exempt organizations from a variety of civil rights regulations, on the grounds that constitutional freedoms around practicing one’s religion should take precedence.

Case in point: Georgia’s proposed (and ultimately tabled) SB130, which would have allowed publicly funded adoption agencies to refuse placements into LGBTQ or nonreligious families.

Segregated schooling

According to new research from the Civil Rights Project , the percentage of black students in intensely segregated schools is now more than one in three, while 40 percent of Latino students attend segregated schools. This indicates significantly more segregation than there was in 1980, when only 23 percent of black students attended segregated schools.

The report also indicates that private schools are almost exclusively white. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, meanwhile, in a Congressional hearing refused to say her office would withhold funds from private schools that discriminate against students.

Housing discrimination

Segregated housing is no longer the law, but redlining and housing discrimination continue. On May 1, 2017, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Miami could sue Bank of America for predatory lending practices that allegedly increased segregation.

The City of Philadelphia then filed a lawsuit of its own, alleging that Wells Fargo pushed credit-worthy minorities into riskier loans. The city’s analysis found that more than 23 percent of loans to minority customers were high-risk or high-cost, while only 7.6 of white customers were given similar terms.