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Bush Veto of 1990 Civil Rights Act Leaves Jewish Groups Disappointed

October 23, 1990
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Jewish groups expressed disappointment with President Bush’s veto Monday of the Civil Rights Act of 1990, a bill that for the first time would have allowed religious minorities and women to collect damages if they were able to prove intention discrimination.

Bush cited a fear that the bill would result in minority hiring quotas, but most Jewish group have argued otherwise.

Agudath Israel of America is the only Jewish group to support Bush’s contention that, while the bill does not call for quotas, it will result quotas being imposed by employers to prevent costly law suits.

Previously, damages based on intention discrimination could only be obtained by blacks and other racial minorities.

The main focus of the bill reverses Supreme Court decisions that weakened the ability of women and minorities to prove discrimination in job hiring and promotion.

The House adopted the bill by a 273-154 vote Oct. 17, following a 62-34 vote by Senate on Oct. 16. Neither body mustered two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto.

Among the Jewish groups expressing disappointment with the president’s decision Monday was the American Jewish Congress. Robert Lifton the group’s national president, issued a statement saying that AJCongress would not have support the bill if it had “believed that the Civil Rights Act would encourage or result in quotas.”

He stressed that “this view is shared by almost all of the Jewish community, a common which knows well the danger of quotas.”

Thomas Homburger, chairman of the national civil rights committee of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, agreed that the legislation “simply is not a quota bill.”

Homburger noted that many changes made in the original bill to meet the concern the Bush administration, but “the sad fact is we have apparently not yet overcome their and misunderstanding.”

Bush is proposing a substitute bill Lifton criticized, particularly a section allowing an employer to bar minorities or women from a job on the basis of “customer relations.” This “would allow business to discriminate against or any minority for reasons unrelated to job performance.” he said.

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