The New Law
“When the government hands out checks, it has a right to attach conditions, and one condition is that you can’t discriminate if you take public money,” said Rep. James M. Jeffords (R-Vt.).
Debate About the Law
Opponents of the law argued that it went too far, and that it was unnecessary for the federal government to get involved with how businesses are run.
“This legislation isn’t a civil rights bill—it’s a power grab by Washington, designed to take control from states, localities, communities, parents and the private sector and give it to federal bureaucrats and judges,” said President Reagan.
Others, like Reverend Jerry Falwell, said the law would require churches and other private organizations to promote ideas they did not believe in. Falwell said it would require churches to hire “homosexual drug addicts with AIDS as youth pastors,” but supporters of the law said this was exaggeration and a warped version of the truth.
“No job is important enough for me to lie to the American people,” Hefner said on the House floor. “If I have to cave in to false information--no job is worth it.”
Supporters of the law include civil rights groups and major religious organizations that said the legislation was important to making sure that federal funds are not used to pay for discrimination.
What is a Veto?
President Reagan's veto of the Civil Rights Restoration Act was the first time in over a century that a sitting president tried to block a major civil rights law (Eaton, 1988). It was the ninth time during the Reagan presidency that Congress overrode his veto.
What the Law Covers
Title IX states that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” This means women cannot be discriminated against or left out from participating in organizations or groups because of their gender. It also means that women must receive equal opportunity in academics and athletics.
The 1973 Rehabilitation Act prevents discrimination against people with disabilities and gives civil rights protections to them. They cannot be turned down for jobs, benefits, or other opportunities because they have a disability.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that businesses, organizations or programs receiving federal funds must not discriminate based on a person's race, color, or national origin (the country in which they are born).
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act is a law passed in 1967 that stops companies from discriminating against employees 40 years of age or older. The law prevents companies from participating in “ageism” or discrimination against people because of their advanced age.
The Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987 makes sure that none of these forms of discrimination are allowed for organizations that receive federal funding. In doing so, the government makes sure that federal money does sponsor discrimination in any form.
Eaton, William J. “Congress Rejects Rights Bill Veto : President Suffers Major Defeat as Republicans Help Enact New Law.” Los Angeles Times, 23 Mar. 198AD, articles.latimes.com/1988-03-23/news/mn-1859_1_civil-rights-bill.