The Civil Rights Act: Precursors and Progeny

Vol. 31 No. 3

1896

The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Plessy v. Ferguson. The Court upholds a Louisiana law mandating racial segregation on trains, deciding that “separate but equal” facilities do not violate the Fourteenth Amendment. Many state and local governments use the Plessy ruling to justify widespread racial segregation.

1954
The U.S. Supreme Court issues its decision in Brown v. Board of Education, five consolidated cases challenging school segregation. Under the guidance of Chief Justice Earl Warren, the Court rules that state-mandated racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional.

1963
The March on Washington takes place. Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech.

1964
The U.S. Congress passes the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title II prohibits discrimination in public accommodations. Title VI allows for withdrawal of federal funds in cases of discrimination. Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, or religion.

1965
The U.S. Congress passes the Voting Rights Act, codifying and effectuating the Fifteenth Amendment’s permanent guarantee that no person shall be denied the right to vote on account of race or color.

1967
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits age discrimination for forty- to sixty-five-year-olds. (The law is amended in 1986 to remove the sixty-five-year-old age cap.)

1968
The 1968 Housing Act goes into force. The Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, or lease of housing. The same year, the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 requires accessibility for people with disabilities in buildings and facilities financed with federal funds.

1970
The U.S. Senate extends the Voting Rights Act to ban literacy tests, which were often used to bar African Americans from voting.

1972
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination in federally assisted education programs.

1973
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 bars federal contractors or subcontractors from employment discrimination on the basis of disability.

1986
The Air Carriers Access Act of 1986 requires access for people with disabilities in construction of terminal facilities owned or operated by an air carrier.

1988
The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 requires access for people with disabilities in multifamily housing intended for first occupancy after March 13, 1991.

1990
The Americans with Disabilities Act is passed. Title I prohibits disability discrimination by private employers. Title II extends employment prohibitions to state governments and Title III requires access for people with disabilities to all places of public accommodation and business for first occupancy after January 26, 1993, or, for occupancy for new alterations and all state and local government facilities, after January 26, 1992.

1991
The Civil Rights Act of 1991 adds provisions to Title VII protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, including the right to jury trial.

1992
The U.S. Congress extends the bilingual provisions of the Voting Rights Act to 2007.

2000
The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) is enacted, providing protection for religious freedom without the potential for undermining state and local civil rights laws. RLUIPA focuses on land use for churches, synagogues, and other religious groups, and religious freedom of those in government-run institutions such as hospitals, prisons, and group homes.

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