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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: July 2019

3 - Toward a Jurisprudence of Civil Rights


What is the nature of the “rights,” jurisprudentially, that the 1964 Civil Rights Act legally prescribed? And, more generally, what is a “civil right”? As discussed in Chapters 1 and 2, modern lawyers tend to think of civil rights, and particularly those that originated in the 1964 Act, as antidiscrimination rights: our “civil rights,” on this understanding, are our rights not to be discriminated against, by employers, schools, landlords, property vendors, hoteliers, restaurant owners, and providers of public transportation, no less than by states and state actors, on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, age, sexuality, or disability. The ideal guiding implementation and interpretation of those rights of nondiscrimination is formal equality: members of protected groups should be treated like the majority group members because they are for all purposes that should matter to law, the same.