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What were the Senator's arguments for and against passage of the Civil Rights Bill of...

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jecho | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted November 15, 2012 at 2:01 AM via web

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What were the Senator's arguments for and against passage of the Civil Rights Bill of 1964? 

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 15, 2012 at 2:24 AM (Answer #1)

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The arguments against the bill varied, though they overwhelmingly came from southern congressmen. Generally, though, their arguments were not explicitly segregationist. Rather they couched their opposition in the language of states rights, claiming that the Civil Rights Act represented a completely unprecedented and unconstitutional expansion of federal power into matters such as elections (which were part of the 1964 act as well as the Voting Rights Act a year later,) business concerns, and education, which had traditionally been under the control of the states. When these arguments seemed unlikely to carry the day in the Senate, Southern senators held a lengthy filibuster to attempt to talk it down. 

Arguments for the bill were fairly simple. The Supreme Court had already weakened constitutional sanction for segregation in Brown v. Board of Education, but segregation in public schools, much less public spaces, the target of the law, was still a reality in most southern states. In general, the law's supporters justified it on the grounds that only federal power could be used to end segregation, which was so rooted in southern law and society.

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