Some things have an obvious and enduring purpose. The purpose of a hammer is to drive nails. The purpose of a saw is to cut wood. The purpose of nails is to fasten, for example, the freshly cut wood by being driven by a hammer. For other things, like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Act" or "1964 Act"), purpose seems mutable or hidden. For example, finishing the sentence today: "The purpose of Title VII is . . ." presents a problem. It has presented the same problem since 1964. What Title VII does is not obvious gauged against the widely announced problem it was meant to solve: Black unemployment and underemployment. The obscurity of its purpose is troubling particularly if you are Black because Title VII has had no apparent effect on Black joblessness. Whether Blacks are equal citizens otherwise is widely questioned. What was Title VII meant to achieve for Black Americans? Beyond the symbolic act of stating the equality principle as the core of federal employment discrimination law, a reasonable answer to the question seems to be: Nothing. Nothing was done to cure the impact of race-based exclusion from educational and job opportunity because that cure required discrimination in favor of Blacks. The equality principle cannot both prohibit discrimination against Blacks and allow discrimination in favor of Blacks.
The Purposes of Title VII, 33 Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy 221
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