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Apocalypse
07-17-2010, 10:37 AM
Congress exempt from Civil Rights Act

By: Erika Lovley
July 16, 2010

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle took Rand Paul to task when he suggested earlier this year that Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act shouldn’t apply to private businesses.

But a new report from Congress’s Office of Compliance notes that Congress has never applied the provision to itself.

“The OOC Board of Directors has taken the position that the rights and protections afforded by Titles II and III of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against discrimination with respect to places of public accommodation should be applied to the legislative branch,” OOC officials wrote in the report.

Title II prohibits discrimination or segregation on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin in access to public accommodations, including hearing rooms, lecture halls, retail shops and restaurants — all accommodations the public uses on Capitol Hill. Title III dictates that these same standards be applied to state and local governments.

The Speaker’s Office and the Senate Historian’s Office say they are not aware of any recorded cases in which people have been barred from entering Capitol Hill facilities on grounds prohibited by the Civil Rights Act.

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Congress has a long, checkered history of failing to apply to itself the laws it passes affecting everybody else. For years, key laws — including the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act — didn’t apply to Congress…

In 1996, [Republican] Congress passed the Congressional Accountability Act, a measure designed to apply a series of workplace laws, including the Civil Rights Act, to Congress, which had previously exempted itself from a laundry list of regulations.

The Office of Compliance, which was created by the CAA, is required by law to alert Congress to workplace-related laws that the legislative branch has not applied to itself.

This week’s report from OOC offers no analysis of why Congress should or should not move forward on the Civil Rights statutes, and OOC declined further comment. But OOC has recommended lawmakers make the change in regular reports since 1997 — the year after OOC was created.

While lawmakers did apply other parts of the Civil Rights Act to the legislative branch when it passed the accountability law, Katz, Marshall & Banks’s research of the legislative records during the Accountability Act debate shows no evidence that lawmakers ever discussed adding in the two civil rights titles…

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0710/39831.html