The Constitution and Civil Rights

By Milton R. Konvitz | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
Federal Legislation against Discrimination
in Employment

DURING THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS a number of bills 1 have been introduced in Congress to prohibit discrimination in employment because of race, creed, color, national origin, or ancestry. The bills are substantially identical. We shall here take as the basis of our discussion H.R. 2232 ( 79th Cong., Ist Sess.) offered by Mrs. Norton. 2

The bill declares that, according to the findings of the Congress, discrimination in employment because of race, creed, color, national origin, or ancestry (I) leads to interracial tension and conflict; (2) forces large segments of the population permanently into substandard conditions of living; (3) creates a drain upon the resources of the nation; (4) causes a diminution of employment and wages which disrupts the market for goods in commerce; all of which (5) burden, hinder, and obstruct commerce. The bill is directed against discrimination practiced by (I) em

____________________
1
At the beginning of the Ist Session of the 79th Congress thirteen bills having this purpose were introduced in the House of Representatives. The provisions of ten of these bills were identical. The best features of the bills, in the judgment of the House Committee on Labor, were directed to be embodied in a new bill, H.R. 2232, here considered. In the Senate, in the same Session, S. 101 and S. 459 were introduced. S. 101 is substantially like H.R. 2232.

S. 459, introduced by Senator Taft, has received no support. It does not mention national origin or ancestry. It provides for the appointment of a commission, but fails to provide for the prohibition of unfair employment practices. The commission is charged with the duty to bring about unfair practices by making comprehensive studies of discrimination, formulating plans for the elimination of such discrimination, by publishing reports, by making investigations when complaints have been filed and making recommendations to the parties as to ways and means of elimination of discriminatory practices. In short, the Taft bill provides no criminal sanctions.

In February, 1946, the bill was killed in the Senate by a filibuster; an attempt to impose closure failed.

2
The bill appears in the Appendix.

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