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De jure discrimination is any discrimination or unequal treatment of two differing groups that is based on statutory law and sanctioned by the government in place at the time. The best example of de jure discrimination would be the Jim Crow laws of the segregated south after the Civil War up to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These laws put in place two separate but unequal societies in the south, allowing the white power structure to subjugate the black population of the former confederacy. The Apartheid system in South Africa up to 1994 is also an example of de jure discrimination.
De facto discrimination, defined as "in fact" discrimination, is conducted below the surface of legal activity, and is more systematic and institutionalized. It involves preventing one group from receiving equal protection of the law, as required by the 14th Amendment by way of secretive, underhanded, and institutionalized maltreatment of a minority group. Discrimination in housing, jobs, and education that goes undetected in the courts counts as de facto discrimination. Such action is subject to litigation under numerous civil rights laws passed in the 1960s and 1970s.
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