CAHSS Faculty Articles

From Rights to Resources: The Southern Federal District Courts and the Transformation of Civil Rights in Education, 1968-­‐1974

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Akron Law Review



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This situation would change. Seemingly out of nowhere, and in a very short period of time, the federal courts transformed the concept of civil rights, taking it in a new and expansive direction almost impossible to predict a mere decade before. Reinterpreting a mix of government laws, regulations and past judicial orders, the courts, along with other branches of the federal government, began to reallocate social and economic resources such as access to education, jobs, political power and housing away from the majority toward the social margins. By 1974, a system of governmnt-ordered, race and gender-based, redistributive remedies to the problems of the past was in place. The years immediately following saw a maturation of this system. The result transformed American society and politics as group affiliation, rather than individual worth, became the defining standard in public life.

One should not underestimate the impact of this shift in public policy after 1968. While the civil rights’ movement’s traditional dream of a color-blind Constitution had often been just that -- a dream -- the formal emphasis prior to 1968 had been on protecting individual rights through the medium of a generally status-blind access to law. The goal was the implementation of equality through the removal of race as an issue of public consideration, and most civil rights laws and decisions were formulated -- at least technically -- to achieve that end.





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