The Party of Lincoln and the Politics of State Fair Employment Practices Legislation in the North, 1945-1964
Anthony S. Chen
University of Michigan
American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 112, No. 6, pp. 1713-1774
From 1945 to 1964, more than a score of northern states passed laws mandating non-discrimination in employment. Why did some states pass such fair employment practice (FEP) laws much more slowly than other states? This article presents archival and statistical evidence that partisan control of policy-making institutions - namely, Republican control of veto points in the legislative process - is associated with a substantial reduction in the likelihood that a state would pass FEP legislation, even when controlling for potentially confounding variables. This finding casts doubt on the leading account of the electoral realignment that began in the mid-1960s and culminated in the Reagan-Bush years. Well before the advent of affirmative action, key numbers of GOP office-holders - allied with organized business and motivated by a free-market, anti-regulatory ideology - worked successfully to block the adoption of color-blind laws mandating formal racial equality.
Keywords: affirmative action, fair employment practices, civil rights, quotas, veto points, electoral realignment
Date posted: March 27, 2008
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