Addendum: Civil Rights in Jeopardy
8 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2013
Date Written: 1988
On April 25, 1988 the U.S. Supreme Court restored Patterson v. McLean Credit Union to the calendar and requested the parties to brief and argue the following question: “Whether or not the interpretation of 42 USC §1981 adopted by this Court in Runyon v. McCrary, 427 U.S. 160 (1976), should be reconsidered?” This order provoked dissenting votes from four members of the Court, blistering dissenting opinions by Justices Blackmun and Stevens, widespread media coverage, and grave concern among civil-rights advocates concerning the expected longevity of Runyon. If Runyon is overruled “it would be the first time in modern history, and perhaps ever, that the Court had overturned a major precedent expanding the rights of racial minorities.”
The authors responded to the Supreme Court’s announcement of its intention to reconsider its interpretation of 42 U.S.C. section 1981 in this article, which originally appeared in the New York Law Journal on May 17, 1988. The authors first sketch the history of §§1981 and 1982 and the major Supreme Court decisions construing these provisions. They then move to an analysis of the Patterson case.
Keywords: Supreme Court, discrimination, Civil Rights, Patterson, 42 U.S.C. 1981, 42 U.S.C. 1982, Runyon
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