Blinded By Prejudice?

I’ve been reading about the passage of the 1957 Civil Rights Bill, which, in its original form, banned racial segregation in theaters, restaurants and hotels (though by the time it was passed, almost all of the content had been stripped out). There’s a part of this history that makes no sense to me and I’m wondering if someone can explain it.

Remember first that this was at a time when several southern states enforced laws that mandated segregation in theaters, restaurants and hotels.

It was also at a time when, as I understand it, the outcome of the legislative battle was very much in doubt, so that each side feared the worst and was eager to compromise. Supporters weren’t sure they could beat a filibuster, which meant the bill might never even come to a vote. Opponents feared a filibuster might be beaten and the bill passed without amendments.

Lyndon Johnson, the majority leader of the Senate, wanted above all else to avoid a major fight, and was eager to facilitate any compromise both sides could agree on. He floated several compromise proposals and actively solicited others, from legislators, attorneys, and everyone else he could think of.

In Master of the Senate, the third in his three-volume biography of Lyndon Johnson, Robert Caro describes a vast number of compromises that failed before the passage of the final successful compromise.

Now here’s what astonishes me: Here you had all these lawyers and politicians, desperately trying to find a creative compromise — and yet, as far as I can tell, nobody ever proposed the compromise that seems (to me) to be obvious. The Republicans and northerners wanted mandatory integration. The southerners wanted to maintain mandatory segregation. The obvious compromise, I should think, would be to have neither — the northerners agree not to pass a federal law, and the southerners agree to repeal some state laws.

It seems to me that even if the southerners had wanted to reject this proposal, they’d painted themselves into a rhetorical corner that would have made it difficult. For years, they’d been arguing against mandatory integration on the grounds that no government has a right to tell a man who he must hire, or to whom he must serve a meal. It would have been easy for the northeners to say “Okay. We’re prepared to agree with that. But of course, on the very same principle, no government has a right to tell a man who he can’t hire, or to whom he can’t serve a meal.”

This compromise would have had quite a few advantages, not the least of which is that it was actually good policy, not just good politics. My guess is that it would have led to substantial integration pretty quickly, because there was money to be made from serving black customers. (Presumably that’s why the south thought the Jim Crow laws were necessary in the first place.)

I can imagine several reasons why this compromise might not have succeeded. (For example, how exactly is the compromise enforced?) But I’m having a lot more difficulty imagining why it was never even floated. Compromise proposals were being floated left and right, and Johnson was desperately begging people to come up with more. How did this one never even come up?

Edited to add: On the other hand, it’s not true that the compromise would have required the cooperation of state legislatures. The Feds were prepared to pass a mandatory integration bill, which means they believed they had the power to pass legislation that would supersede state laws. Why not use that same power to pass a “no mandatory segregation” bill?

Were people so thoroughly blinded by the prejudice that it takes a law — as opposed to the absence of a law — to solve a problem? Or is there more to this history (or more to the underlying game theory) than I’m aware of?

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34 Responses to “Blinded By Prejudice?”


  1. 1 1 Keshav Srinivasan

    Steve, I thought that most Jim Crow laws were aimed at governement facilities and services, although some were aimed at businesses as well. I think a lot of the segregation practices by businesses were done voluntarily.

  2. 2 2 Blair

    It’s not my field of US history, but I can’t imagine any politician of the time considering a strategy, even in desperation, requiring that many state legislatures to do the right thing at the right time on the right scale. It’s not just herding cats, it’s herding multiple herds of rabid cats through a car wash.

    The Fourteenth Amendment makes it inherently an issue played out at the federal level as well.

  3. 3 3 Harold

    It is difficult to mentally separate it from the 1964 act, I understand that in its final form it was mostly about voting – so maybe the Southern states won the battle, succeeding in stripping out many the bits they didn’t like, whilst maintaining their discrimination laws. Ultimately it would result in losing the war in 1964, when all these provisions came back. It does seem a little odd that the compromise suggested was not made – perhaps the discriminators simply didn’t need to offer it?

    Some opinions seem very odd (at least to me) from the perspective of only 50 years. About the later act, Senator Russell said: “We will resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would have a tendency to bring about social equality and intermingling and amalgamation of the races in our (Southern) states.”

    Given these sentiments, I think that the supporters of the bill may have felt that merely removing mandatory discrimination would not be enough, and discrimination would persist unless actively pursued by the Federal Govt.

    The Northern states were not free from discrimination, with de facto segregation quite common I think. Even without mandatory discrimination, it tended to occur anyway – some of it, it has to be said, by Govt itself. An example was declaring predominantly black areas “in decline”, which prevented blacks from getting housing loans, and also allowed destruction of their properties with little compensation. The unions were also guilty of enforcing segregation, although this was reducing even in the 1930′s. From wiki: “In Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, towns near the Mason-Dixon line enforced school segregation, despite state laws outlawing the practice of it”. This supports the view that positive legislation was required and active Federal support, not just the removal of mandated discrimination, since without federal support the law was obviously flouted.

    I am a bit unclear about the result of Brown vs Board of Education. Although specifically about education, it seems to have ruled that de jure discrimination was unconstitutional. How did this affect the status of these other laws mandating discrimination? Why were they still on the books by 1957?

    The responses to Brown reveal the depths of entrenched prejudice. “For example, based on “Brown II,” the U.S. District Court ruled that Prince Edward County, Virginia did not have to desegregate immediately. When faced with a court order to finally begin desegregation in 1959 the county board of supervisors stopped appropriating money for public schools, which remained closed for five years, from 1959 to 1964.
    White students in the county were given assistance to attend white-only “private academies” that were taught by teachers formerly employed by the public school system, while black students had no education at all unless they moved out of the county.”

    The local Govt. was prepared to see all black students have no education for 5 years rather than comply. This further supports the argument that federal action was required to support the law.

    Apologies if I have got my history wrong here – any corrections most welcome as this is a complex period in race relations.

  4. 4 4 Jack

    Not sure what the answer to your particular question is, but I think this time in history should remind us that sometimes, even if you believe someone has a right not to serve you (as perhaps even some who fought in the civil rights battles may have believed), you may still come to a moral conclusion that it is right and just to fight to be served. Because let’s be honest… part of the reason blacks made progress as fast as they did and made it possible for them to go out and eat at the same restaurants as whites and have some of the other same opportunities is because they fought for it. And really it was a fight to change whites’ mindset, not to eat at any particular restaurant. Sometimes you just gotta fight to chance people’s preferences.

  5. 5 5 Alan Gunn

    Part of the answer may be that federal legislators can’t make an enforceable promise that states will change their laws. Also, a lot of the anti-civil rights rhetoric back then was heavy on “states’ rights.” I’m not sure it’s accurate to say that defenders of segregation were arguing that “no government” should tell people who they could serve, and of course if they were arguing that it was an extremely hypocritical argument.

  6. 6 6 Steve Landsburg

    Blair:

    It’s not my field of US history, but I can’t imagine any politician of the time considering a strategy, even in desperation, requiring that many state legislatures to do the right thing at the right time on the right scale

    But maybe you wouldn’t have needed this. The Feds certainly thought they could pass a law requiring integration, and that that law would supersede all the state laws, on some grounds or another. Why not instead pass a law allowing each business to make its own choices, which presumably could have superseded all state laws on exactly the same grounds?

  7. 7 7 Steve Landsburg

    Alan Gunn:

    Part of the answer may be that federal legislators can’t make an enforceable promise that states will change their laws

    But see my reply to Blair. The Federal legislators certainly believed they had the power to pass a mandatory integration bill, which would have superseded many state laws? Why not use the same power to pass a “no mandatory segregation bill”, presumably superceding state laws on the same grounds (whatever those grounds might have been)?

  8. 8 8 David Pinto

    The cynic in me says that the compromise didn’t come up because politicians don’t think people are smart enough to make their own choices.

  9. 9 9 Jimbino

    It’s “supersede,” not “supercede.”

  10. 10 10 RPLong

    Just speculation from my corner, but I suspect the reason nobody arrived at that compromise is because it is literally antithetical to the way legislators think. They think in terms of what must be mandated; they do not think in terms of not legislating at all.

    It’s like driving a car under the assumption that one can only deploy the accelerator or the brake – never coast.

    The Short Form Of This Answer: So! Steven Landsburg supports doing NOTHING about segregation!!!

  11. 11 11 TEA

    “Were people so thoroughly blinded by the prejudice that it takes a law — as opposed to the absence of a law — to solve a problem?”

    I think that’s it. Southerners, or those who held political power, simply didn’t want integration. The compromise that you suggest would have been unacceptable to them because it would have enabled integration.

  12. 12 12 Alan Gunn

    I don’t think it’s quite right to say that “the Feds” thought they had the power to pass a mandatory integration bill. The people in favor of the bill thought that, or at least hoped that, though it wasn’t until after the litigation over the 1964 act that the Supreme Court decided the issue. The federal legislators who opposed integration didn’t think, or at least wouldn’t concede, that the federal government had that power, and that was not a foolish position back then. Furthermore, for a southern segregationist legislator to support a bill that required that kind of extension of federal power would have been political suicide. In the South, in 1957, there were still “Impeach Earl Warren” billboards all over the place.

    I’m inclined to think that a lot of the “states’ rights” rhetoric we heard from southerners back then was largely an excuse for keeping segregation, rather than a real concern of most of the white southerners who supported segregation. But at least it sounded a lot better than “we don’t want to associate with people of other races.” So a “compromise” that abandoned the states’ rights argument wouldn’t really have been a compromise, it would have been a surrender. Even if the particular legislation wouldn’t have brought much immediate change in most of the South, it would have deprived the segregationists of the only argument they could make in public. And, having conceded the federal power issue, they could anticipate being outvoted in a year or two when a new mandatory integration bill came up. And it surely would have come up, because no congress can make a compromise that binds future congresses.

  13. 13 13 Steve Landsburg

    Jimbino: I think that “supercede” has become common enough to be accepted in some circles, but I agree that “supersede” is preferable, and I’m editing accordingly. Thanks.

  14. 14 14 khodge

    I second RPLong on this. Legislators are judged on what they do, not on what they do not do.

  15. 15 15 nobody.really

    1. Why didn’t people propose a compromise of federally-imposed deregulation of segregation?
    A. I don’t know that there wasn’t such a proposal. Basically, we’re basing the ideas that no such proposal existed on the fact that we’re ignorant of anyone making such a proposal. Absence of knowledge is not knowledge of absence.
    B. The final Civil Rights Act of 1957 ended up addressing voting rights. Thus, one easy hypothesis for the lack of evidence for a proposal deregulating segregation is that people more knowledgeable than Robert Caro knew that such proposals would not fly. They knew that at least one faction (e.g., Southern Democrats) were confident in their ability to hold out for a bill that created ineffectual, symbolic laws pertaining to things that didn’t threaten people’s day-to-day lives rather than to strike a “grand bargin.”
    Doubtless Caro is more knowledgeable than I, but I can’t overlook the fact that segregation issues threatened to (and ultimately did) rupture the Democratic Party. As a result, Johnson had a strong incentive to APPEAR to be seeking out every possible proposal while actually suppressing proposals that would be especially pernicious to his party. Thus, I would not be surprised if today we can find plenty of evidence of Johnson making a display of his openness to all proposals, combined with an inexplicable failure of the parties to make certain proposals.
    2. The more fun, game-theoretical question: How well would segregation endure in the absence of a regulatory regime enforcing it? To rephrase: Does law play a role in changing social norms?
    I note that the 1964 Civil Rights Act has long prohibited discrimination in hiring or housing on the basis of various suspect criteria, including race. There is some evidence hat decisions regarding housing and hiring continue to include considerations of these suspect criteria. One interpretation of this data is that discriminatory impulses endure for reasons that have nothing to do with regulation – (perhaps because discriminatory beliefs are gratifying, and not too costly, for the discriminator to hold). A contrary interpretation is that something about barring discrimination on the basis of suspect criteria helps to promote those criteria as relevant for employers and landlords.
    Libertarians have an atomized sense of decision-making, and may give insufficient weight to people’s tendency to conform to social norms. Authorities can sometimes create cracks in the power of a social norm, thereby letting people act on their more atomistic preferences.
    • “You know, I’d love to smoke that stuff too, but my dad said he’d kill me if I ever did any such thing. He’s crazy, I know, but that’s just the way he is. So I’m just gonna have to pass….”

    • “I know it wasn’t a Kosher hot dog, but what was I to do? You’ve always told me to be polite and respectful when meeting other people, so when they offered me something to eat….”

    • “Well, daddy, of course I wanted Johnny to drive me home before curfew, just like we said. But the police shut the highway due to the snowfall, so I spent the night at Julie’s house instead – honest!”

    • “Hell no, I don’t want to serve them darkies at my lunch counter. But what could I do? It’s the law now. You can’t fight Washington.”
    In short, I may be reluctant to openly break a social norm, but be willing to capitulate in the breech of a social norm that I’d secretly like to break anyway, provided I can find a means to shirk responsibility for my choice. Authority figures may provide that means.

  16. 16 16 Harold

    Looking again, the 1957 act did not seem to achieve very much in its own right. In its final form it was primarily supposed to ensure all Americans could exercise their right to vote, but 3 years after its passage black voter registration had only risen from 20% to a measly 23%

    So with hindsight it seems that the Landsburg compromise would in the short term have been very beneficial to the supporters of civil rights legislation. They would have got the voter commission, and the dissolution of the segregation laws. As it was, these were not done away with until 1964. I don’t suppose it looked that way to those involved.

    It would certainly have been very interesting to see what would have happened to segregation in the absence of either law. Unfortunately, this particular real experiment is denied us, so we can only speculate.

  17. 17 17 Ken B

    @Keshav 1:
    No. Very wrong indeed. That seems to be a meme that crops up here from time to time. I presume it’s a talking point on some left leaning site, part of the “market evil, government good” trope. It is completely false. In fact many companies, bus companies and train companies for instance, tried in court to get exemptions from Jim Crow laws.

  18. 18 18 Ken B

    Trust?
    A lack of trust in the south not to evade looser strictures. Probably justified I think. How long was Brown v Board evaded in the south? There is also the issue of enforcement: the feds can enforce a federal law. Harder to enforce the absence of a state law. Not something federal officers can actively do. And the need to have something to use against social pressure to get actual results quicker. Maybe Steve is right about market forces, but maybe not, with shaming and kluckers.
    Given all that, and the uncertainty of getting a second bite at the apple, why should northerners have settled for a less explicit arrangement?

  19. 19 19 Ken B

    Keshav
    Here are some simple samples from Alabama and Georgia. Examples can be multiplied; these are just examples.

    Restaurants: It shall be unlawful to conduct a restaurant or other place for the serving of food in the city, at which white and colored people are served in the same room, unless such white and colored persons are effectually separated by a solid partition extending from the floor upward to a distance of seven feet or higher, and unless a separate entrance from the street is provided for each compartment. Alabama

    Pool and Billiard Rooms: It shall be unlawful for a negro and white person to play together or in company with each other at any game of pool or billiards. Alabama

    Toilet Facilities, Male: Every employer of white or negro males shall provide for such white or negro males reasonably accessible and separate toilet facilities. Alabama
    Restaurants: All persons licensed to conduct a restaurant, shall serve either white people exclusively or colored people exclusively and shall not sell to the two races within the same room or serve the two races anywhere under the same license. Georgia

    Amateur Baseball: It shall be unlawful for any amateur white baseball team to play baseball on any vacant lot or baseball diamond within two blocks of a playground devoted to the Negro race, and it shall be unlawful for any amateur colored baseball team to play baseball in any vacant lot or baseball diamond within two blocks of any playground devoted to the white race. Georgia

    Parks: It shall be unlawful for colored people to frequent any park owned or maintained by the city for the benefit, use and enjoyment of white persons…and unlawful for any white person to frequent any park owned or maintained by the city for the use and benefit of colored persons. Georgia

    Wine and Beer: All persons licensed to conduct the business of selling beer or wine…shall serve either white people exclusively or colored people exclusively and shall not sell to the two races within the same room at any time. Georgia

    And if you think about it, what was the point of the lunch counter protests if it wasn’t to break an unjust law?

  20. 20 20 Keshav Srinivasan

    Ken B, I’m not disputing that Southern states passed some laws mandating segregation. (Although I think that the majority of the Jim Crow laws were aimed at government.) I’m saying that businesses practiced lots of segregation even when the law did not require them to.

    As far as lunch counter protests, I don’t think they were entirely about state segregation laws. I think they were about protesting against restaurants that had made segregated lunch counters. (Note that in the most famous sit-in, the one in North Carolina, the restaurant had both a segregated lunch counter and a non-segregated lunch counter, so it’s not like there was a law mandating that whites and blacks couldn’t sit together.) Now there is a sense in which the protests WERE about breaking what were perceived to be unjust laws, namely the laws that allowed businesses to kick out blacks if they refused to sit in their designated areas.

  21. 21 21 Ken B

    @Keshav 20
    I don’t think they did have a non segregated lunch counter. They had non segregated sales counters- where the 4 bought items, but I believe the lunch counters were completely segregated. You have a citation that Wollworth’s had 3 sections of lunch counter?

    I don’t know what the law was in Greensboro at that time. From the fact WW did desegregate I assume it was not required in NC at that time. But for much of the south, as my examples indicate, it was law.

  22. 22 22 Keshav Srinivasan

    Ken B, no, I don’t have a citation, just a vague memory from school. Anyway, my only point is that even when there were no laws requiring businesses to practice segregation, they still practiced segregation a lot of the time.

  23. 23 23 Harold

    I have only just noticed that the title of this post is “bilinded by prejudice” Must have been bilinded to that typo, despite having two “I”s

    Ken B: “Given all that, and the uncertainty of getting a second bite at the apple, why should northerners have settled for a less explicit arrangement?” In the 1957 act they did settle for a very much less explicit arrangement – there was no mention of segregation at all except voting.

    Nobody.really. “Does law play a role in changing social norms?” I think it clearly must have some effect. In the case of discrimination I think it can have a large effect. Discrimination of the sort we are discussing has no rational basis. Like phobias, people feel that the consequences of desegregating will be much larger than they actually are. If a law forces desegregation it is rather like de-sensitisation therapy for phobias. By increasing exposure to the other race the irrational fear lessens.

  24. 24 24 Steve Landsburg

    Harold: I have only just noticed that the title of this post is “bilinded by prejudice”

    Fixing this now!

  25. 25 25 Harold

    It shows how often we see what we expect to see.

  26. 26 26 nobody.really

    Discrimination of the sort we are discussing has no rational basis.

    That depends on what you mean.

    From an evolutionary perspective, I may well have been adaptive to make snap judgments about people based on whatever information you could observe at a distance — race, gender, age, physical ability, social class, etc. Perhaps not coincidentally, the propensity to draw judgments based on these observable characteristics form the basis of various “-isms” that haunt us today.

    Like phobias, people feel that the consequences of desegregating will be much larger than they actually are. If a law forces desegregation it is rather like de-sensitisation therapy for phobias. By increasing exposure to the other race the irrational fear lessens.

    I suspect there’s something to that. But alas, not as much as we might hope.

    Adjusting for class, income and other factors, Robert Putnam (Habit of the Heart, Bowling Alone) finds that the more racially diverse a community is, the lower the social trust. People in diverse communities “don’t trust the local mayor, they don’t trust the local paper, they don’t trust other people and they don’t trust institutions.” In the presence of such ethnic diversity, “we hunker down. We act like turtles. The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it’s not just that we don’t trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, we don’t trust people who do look like us.” See “E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century — The 2006 Johan Skytte Prize,” Scandinavian Political Studies 30 (2), June 2007.

    Ethologist Frank Salter writes in On Genetic Interests at p. 146.:

    Relatively homogeneous societies invest more in public goods, indicating a higher level of public altruism. For example, the degree of ethnic homogeneity correlates with the government’s share of gross domestic product as well as the average wealth of citizens. Case studies of the United States… find that multi-ethnic societies are less charitable and less able to cooperate to develop public infrastructure…. A recent multi-city study of municipal spending on public goods in the United States found that ethnically or racially diverse cities spend a smaller portion of their budgets and less per capita on public services than do the more homogenous cities.

    Segregation may be a mechanism by which people attempt to build social solidarity in an ethnically diverse world – for better and worse.

  27. 27 27 Harold

    #26 I think if we start at different ends, so to speak, we see different things. Looking at levels of cooperation and altruism in diverse societies is quite a sensitive test, perhaps. We are detecting low levels of prejudice that are difficult to remove. If we look at an apartheid type society, we are seeing the opposite extreme, a society based to a large extend on the perceived differences. I think if we are starting at this extreme, then “forced” mixing may have a large de-sensitising effect.

    Even at the other end – the diverse society end- the effect may be strong, but may take longer. If we go back 300 years, then someone from two villages over was “other” and treated with suspicion (possibly). Now we treat everyone from the same country as pretty much homogeneous, and it is only those from other countries (by and large) that are “other”. Even then, some countries are treated differently. The anglophone countries treat each other with little suspicion, although they are all over the globe.

    So what does it mean to be a relatively homogeneous society? The things that are perceived to separate us may have a real effect, or they may be imagined, but in either case they may have the societal effects you describe. However, the imagined differences should reduce with exposure. For example, a different language is a real difference – it makes communication difficult. Color of skin is not a real difference as it does not actually affect any aspect of interaction except as it is perceived to do so. It is these unimportant differences that I would expect to be less and less significant with more contact.

  28. 28 28 Harold

    ” Color of skin is not a real difference ” Obviously, colos of skin is a real difference, but not one that affects social interaction, any more than eye color.

  29. 29 29 prior probability

    Great post, but logic doesn’t really apply to politics or ethics, does it?

  30. 30 30 Advo

    One of the things that isn’t often mentioned when debating allowing segregation is that it has the pernicious effect of leading to businesses advertisments PROMOTING racism.

    After all, there is certainly a market nice – a very large one in the southern states in 1957 – for businesses to brand themselves as WHITE ONLY.
    To illustrate, the following speculative (and highly offensive) examples for the kinds of marketing messages such whites-only businesses would have put out:

    “Here at the Jefferson Davis Steakhouse, you dine in style and you don’t have to worry about n*ggers spoiling your experience”

    “Tired of rubbing shoulders with Jews, negroes and other rabble? Have you ever contracted fleas or other communicable diseases while shopping? Here at White Linnens you can shop with confidence, we keep the parasites out”.

    This is the kind of marketing you would inevitably have had if desegration hadn’t been mandatory.
    And the more racist a community was to begin with, the more of it you would have had.
    As regards race relations and the impact of one’s skin color on one’s prospects in life, the US would certainly be in a substantially worse position if it had had that kind of marketing for the last 50 years.

  31. 31 31 Cos

    “mandatory” segregation didn’t depend on laws requiring it. It was a very widespread voluntary practice by business and property owners. Simple repealing laws would’ve made little difference. I don’t know where you get your notion that integration would’ve happened quickly, but hell no. Hardly a whit of difference would’ve been made by such a supposed “compromise”.

  32. 32 32 Harold

    #31. I agree that positive anti discrimination laws did accelerate integration, but is there direct evidence to support it? We suspect that segregation was to an extent voluntary, but can we say for certain? From my earlier comment “From wiki: “In Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, towns near the Mason-Dixon line enforced school segregation, despite state laws outlawing the practice of it”. This is strong evidence that segregation. Here the segregation was enforced not merely in the absence of a law requiring it, but actually despite a law prohibiting it. However, this is still not private business, so not totally conclusive.

  33. 33 33 iceman

    30/31 – don’t tell that to all the people who participated in those integrated marches etc. There seems to have been a sizable niche there as well.
    Surely it’s easier to maintain segregationist practices if others can’t break the cartel.

    Change certainly appears to happen more quickly with a law, and politics is all about superficial effects (to pacify the rationally ignorant).
    Less clear is how to effect real change in hearts and minds.
    Some here believe forcing a change in people’s experiences eventually accomplishes this. Of course this doesn’t always go smoothly, e.g. (forced) familiarity can breed contempt?
    Others think stigmas erode more effectively over time through more ‘organic’ change that starts with self-selection and progresses through upward mobility.
    This also has an advantage involving the flip side of the compromise that no one is really talking about – ‘no one should be told who they must hire or serve etc.’, i.e. freedom of assembly is better preserved?

  34. 34 34 Anonym NYC

    Steve,rnrnA question that shouldn’t go overlooked is: On what basis is the 1964 Civil Rights Act constitutional?rnrnThe answer, interestingly and absurdly, is that the basis is NOT “equal protection” rights of the Fourteenth Amendment (which wouldn’t make sense, since the Fourteenth doesn’t protect people from discrimination by private actors except for some exceptional circumstances), but rather the federal government’s constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce! That is the basis provided by Supreme Court rulings on the matter. If anyone wants I can dig up links. (Unfortunately I’m very late to this thread, and it may be dead now.)rnrnGiven that the Civil Rights Act applies to every business and other private organization, the implication is that every business is (sufficiently) engaged in interstate commerce such that the federal government can regulate it.

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