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date: 15 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Why are there civil rights laws? What should their scope and coverage be? What are their weaknesses? How can they be improved? In answering these questions, I concentrate on employment and on race in the United States. Following Sophia Moreau, I argue that civil rights laws are ways of assigning rights that are needed when groups are victims of pervasive discrimination. Empirical economic work shows that blacks and Hispanics probably meet the relevant conditions for coverage under these laws, but whites (at least white males) do not. Civil rights laws are hard to enforce, and should cover as many different domains of life as possible because coverage in each domain is complementary with coverage in others. Existing laws do not seem sufficient to assure blacks and Hispanics of the deliberative freedoms that Moreau enunciates, and so I speculate on alternative approaches.

Keywords: civil rights, civil rights laws, discrimination, disparate treatment, disparate impact, race

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