It’s Time to Realize King’s Dream

Media 02.11,04

WASHINGTON – The nation’s civil rights leaders today called on Congress and the White House to fulfill Martin Luther King’s dream of justice and equality for all Americans by supporting “FAIRNESS: The Civil Rights Act of 2004.”

“2004 is the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision,” said Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition. “While we have come a long way,” continued Henderson, “recent court decisions have undercut and weakened America’s civil rights laws in ways that Congress and the American people never expected.”

“Treating some of us as second-class when it comes to rights guaranteed by the Constitution is neither moral nor just and hardly a beacon for the rest of the world,” said Henderson. “If we are to be that shining ‘city on the hill,’ then the Civil Rights Act of 2004 must become the law of the land.”

“How is it fair,” asked Henderson, “for an older worker employed by a local or state government not to have the same protections as workers in private industry? But that’s what the federal courts have decided.”

“And how is it fair,” asked Henderson, “for a local or state government to discriminate against soldiers in our Armed Forces who return from Iraq and suddenly discover they no longer have a job? But that’s what the federal courts have decided.”

“And how is it fair,” asked Henderson, “for a poor citizen or Medicaid recipient to be denied the right to sue the government if they have been treated unjustly? But that’s what the federal courts have decided.”

LCCR and its member organizations strongly endorse the FAIRNESS Act because it ensures that Congress keeps the promises it made to the American people when it passed previous civil rights laws prohibiting unfair and discriminatory treatment.

“In America, our individual rights are supposed to be guaranteed by the Constitution,” said Henderson, “but in case after case, the courts are taking those rights away and that’s just not right. The FAIRNESS Act sends a strong and clear message to the courts – trampling on the civil rights of the elderly, workers, women, the disabled, and the poor is not what America is about. The FAIRNESS Act restores civil rights protections and realizes the dream of Martin Luther King.”