Clay Cosponsors House Resolution Affirming the Vital Importance of the Civil Rights Act of 1866
As U.S. Supreme Court prepares to reexamine the applicability of Section 1981, it is essential for Congress to reaffirm its original intent for enacting this law:
Protecting the most vulnerable from discrimination in our nation’s business places.
Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay (D) Missouri has joined with House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D) California to cosponsor a resolution in the U.S. House reaffirming the vital importance of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1866, specifically the powerful impact that Section 1981 of the Act has had on ensuring equitable and equal contracting among businesses and individuals. This new resolution makes clear the historical context for the drafting and enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, and how imperative preserving the original legal protections that the law created are to safeguard civil rights in our nation today.
Congressman Clay commented, “153-years ago, in the aftermath of the Civil War, Congress acted to ensure the full citizenship of former slaves and free Black citizens by protecting them from discrimination in commerce and in all forms of business across the nation. This week the U.S. Supreme Court will reexamine the applicability of Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866. I am honored to join with Chairwoman Maxine Waters to assert our strong belief that systematic racism is still pervasive in American life and American commerce, and as such, it is essential that Congress reaffirm its original intent for enacting this law, namely, protecting the most vulnerable from all forms of discrimination in our nation’s business places.”
In the aftermath of the Civil War, African Americans suffered through a tumultuous integration in which they were systematically and routinely subject to laws, such as the “Black Codes”, designed to restrict African American’s freedom and keep formerly enslaved persons from thriving in society. In response, Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1866 to accomplish three primary objectives: to establish that all persons born in the United States were to be considered citizens; to clearly define the rights guaranteed by American citizenship; and to make it unlawful for any person to deprive another of these rights based on race. The law’s Section 1981 is an extension of these objectives, specifically enumerating protections for citizens when contracting, and crafting a legal avenue for the racially discriminated to seek justice.
This resolution acknowledges the history of Section 1981, its significance, and its integral role as a key pillar of civil rights jurisprudence.