While July is only a few days old, some remarkable things already occured in the month of July. I’ve chosen to highlight 3 memorable July events so far. There will be more to follow as the month progresses.
1964 Civil Rights Act Turns 47 on July 2, 2011
Forty seven years ago on July 2, 1964, President Johnson
signed into law the 1964 Civil Rights Act which forbid discrimination against African
Americans. It ended unequal voting registration laws, segregation of schools
and discrimination in the workplace and in all public facilities. Congress asserted
its authority under the commerce clause and the Equal Protection clause of 14th
amendment the constitution. Later, the US enacted the teeth and means to
enforce the Act. The bill was originally called for by President John F. Kennedy in 1963 in a speech to “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.” It was President Johnson, a southerner who used his power to get the legislation enacted into law.
26th Amendment Turns 40
On July 1, 40 years ago, the 26th amendment to the US Constitution was passed which lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. In the 2008 election, many of the 15 million new voters were youth. A large percentage of them voted for President Obama. Today, many states are making it more difficult for young adults to vote with restrictive voter identification laws. These new laws now in effect in more than half the states will require some form of voter ID to vote. Seems harmless at first until you realize that some state will deny youth voters the right to use their college or university issued photo identification. In Texas, for example, a gun registration permit is an acceptable form of ID but not a student college or university ID. Many youth or young adults do not possess a driver’s license, particularly many living in urban areas. Most will not have a gun permit registration. These laws while seemingly acceptable will disenfranchise many youth voters on college campuses. This is surely not what the US Constitution expected with the passing of the 26th amendment 40 years ago. Any law that impacts the constitutional right of young adults to vote need to be challenged.
A Win for Affirmative Action
A federal court struck down Michigan’s 2006 ban on race and gender as a consideration in public university admissions and government hiring
in the decade long fight over University of Michigan’s affirmative action. The court says it impermissibly burdens racial minorities. The University already gives special consideration to veterans, those from rural communities and those with lower incomes. Many universities give special consideration to legacies those students whose parent attended the university. The law would prohibit race and ethnicities from being given special consideration like other groups. Somehow, race is considered a highly more suspect category according to the proponents of the race ban. The case will probably end up in the Supreme Court.
Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, blogger and legal and political commentator. She also contributes to the Huffington Post
and Women’s Media Center. She addresses issues on race and women. She holds a juris Doctorate from George Washington
University Law School and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania.