NEW YORK (Sep. 13)
Seventeen states enacted new civil rights laws this year, and eight strengthened existing ones, making 1965 “the most productive year ever,” according to a report on legislative developments made today by Dore Schary, national chairman of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.
The report, part of a continuing League survey of civil rights legislation, analyzed progress on the state level toward outlawing discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations, and education. It credited a section of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964–giving state enforcement machinery priority over Federal action in cases involving discrimination in employment and places of public accommodation–with providing the impetus for the enactment of new state laws in those areas. Where such laws exist, Mr. Schary explained, Federal action is deferred from 30 to 120 days.
The report noted that, during the past year, the number of states insuring fair practices in employment had risen to 33; while laws banning discrimination in housing are now in effect in 35 states. Ohio has outlawed the Ku Klux Klan, the survey showed, and a ban against paramilitary organizations has been passed in California.
Mr. Schary said that, despite a “marked upward trend” in all areas of civil rights legislation, resistance to fair housing laws continues in many states. He pointed out that, although five states adopted fair housing laws for the first time, and five others strengthened laws already on their books, fair housing bills were defeated in eleven other states where they had been proposed. “Only 16 states have adequate fair housing legislation–less than half the amount with laws against discrimination in employment and places of public accommodation,” he declared. He called the lag “the one dark spot in a steadily brightening picture.”
The League survey, conducted by Paul Hartman, associate director of the organization’s law department, under the supervision of Arnold Forster, ADL general counsel, included enacted bills and those pending in two states–Pennsylvania and Wisconsin–where legislatures are still in session. Bills have been introduced in both to strengthen existing housing laws. In Wisconsin, an Assembly bill seeks to broaden the coverage of that state’s law on public accommodations.