Wyden, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to End Economic Racial Discrimination
Senator: “As America prepares to mark Juneteenth, our country should be strengthening laws that protect the civil rights of Black Americans and people of color and support economic justice.”
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden said today that he and Senate colleagues have introduced legislation that would protect individuals from racial discrimination and foster economic inclusion.
The Economic Inclusion Civil Rights Act would restore and strengthen Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, addressing the erosion of Section 1981's original guarantees by adopting a motivation test, allowing for disparate impact claims, and expanding protection to a broader array of economic activity.
“As America prepares to mark Juneteenth, our country should be strengthening laws that protect the civil rights of Black Americans and people of color and support economic justice. Yet, the Supreme Court has chipped away at Section 1981, a pillar in the fight against racial discrimination and expanding economic opportunities,” Wyden said. “Congress must right this wrong and do more to address the serious economic inequities that persist in America and make sure that every American has equal opportunity.”
Congress passed Section 1981 to secure the civil rights of Black citizens in the wake of the Civil War. Enacted as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, Section 1981 guarantees all persons the “same right” to make and enforce contracts “as [are] enjoyed by white citizens.” Under Section 1981, all racial discrimination in the making and enforcing of private and public contracts should be prohibited. Over time, however, the Supreme Court chipped away at the promises of Section 1981.
Alongside Wyden, the legislation was led by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Cory Booker, D-N.J. The bill was cosponsored by U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Edward J. Markey, D-Mass.
The Economic Inclusion Civil Rights Act has earned endorsements from prominent organizations dedicated to advancing civil rights and combating racial discrimination. The endorsing organizations and academics include: Color of Change; the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; National Urban League; U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.; and Dean Erwin Chemerinsky from Berkeley Law School.
Text of the bill is here.
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