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Jonathan Bean


  • Originally published 08/12/2014

    Classifying America: Government’s Power to Define Is the Power to Discriminate

    Liberty and Power

    Frederick Douglass’s colorblind self-definition epitomized that element of the classical liberal tradition of civil rights—one that even the NAACP held to as late as the 1960s when it rejected all government racial classifications as a step backward toward discrimination.Yet here we are today with racial classifications that conceal the divisions within the so-called “races.” To define a group as eligible for benefits or preferences is to exclude those outside the group of the same treatment. Equal protection of the law goes out the window as individuals or business in government-defined preferential groups benefit from “affirmative discrimination” while those not-so-defined suffer.

  • Originally published 08/12/2014

    Triumph and Trashing of the Civil Rights Act

    Liberty and Power

    July 2 marked the 50th anniversary of the most famous Civil Rights Act in U.S. history. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 promised justice for all, regardless of race, color, creed, sex or national origin. The plain meaning of the act: “Nondiscrimination. Period.” The law was a triumph of colorblind individualism over group-based discrimination. Tragically, policymakers have spent the past 50 years trashing the act’s meaning by reviving group discrimination.

  • Originally published 06/28/2014

    50 Years of Mischief: The Triumph and Trashing of the Civil Rights Act

    Liberty and Power

    July 2 marks the 50th anniversary of the most famous Civil Rights Act in U.S history. Passed after the longest debate in congressional history, the Civil Rights Act (CRA) promised to secure justice for all regardless of race, color, creed, sex, or national origin. As I wrote in Race and Liberty: The Essential Reader, the law “was understood to mean ‘colorblindness’ by nearly every observer at the time.” The plain meaning of the act might be summed up as: “Nondiscrimination. Period.”

  • Originally published 06/14/2014

    Are Some Groups More Equal Than Others?

    Liberty and Power

    In the recent Schuette v. BAMN decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of voters to amend the Michigan Constitution by guaranteeing Equal Protection to individuals in state university admission. The Court’s 6-2 majority split in its reasoning, with several justices citing recent decisions upholding “permissible” racial discrimination when the Court deems it acceptable. There is, however, no such “permissibility” language in the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.