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Debates Forum

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    16 Feb '17 15:133 edits
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

    Does this amendment solely apply to the government and areas of government jurisdiction and thus private organisations are therefore free to discriminate on any basis they see fit? e.g. my club my rules.
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    16 Feb '17 15:161 edit
    Originally posted by robbie carrobie
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

    Does this amendment solely apply to the government and areas of government ju ...[text shortened]... ion and thus private organisations are therefore free to discriminate on any basis they see fit?
    I know what you think it says, but all that matters is which stooge political hacks are appointed to SCOTUS.

    They alone have the ability to understand this ever changing, tortured, complicated document. Just leave it to them. 😵
  3. Standard membersh76
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    16 Feb '17 15:211 edit
    Originally posted by robbie carrobie
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

    Does this amendment solely apply to the government and areas of government ju ...[text shortened]... ion and thus private organisations are therefore free to discriminate on any basis they see fit?
    The First Amendment doesn't outlaw discrimination except on religious grounds. Other Amendments (mainly the 14th and 5th) address discrimination in other forms.

    But the premise of your question is correct. The Constitution mainly only applies to government action. It does not prohibit discrimination by private citizens or companies (perhaps the 13th Amendment's ban on slavery could be used to prohibit some forms of private discrimination, but this area has not been explored thoroughly by the courts).

    The prohibition on private discrimination, principally in the areas of employment and public accommodations, come via federal and state statutes, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Ironically, Congress has the power to pass these sorts of civil rights laws mainly under its power to regulate commerce, as the constitutional equal protection clause applies only to government action.

    When it comes to private action not covered by statute, there is no prohibition on discrimination. For example, if I want to exclude black people from my football-watching Sunday afternoon parties, that is not only allowed, but also my right under freedom of association. Even a large organization, such as the buy scouts or Augusta National Golf Course, are allowed to discriminate if they so choose because they're not public accommodations.

    See Boy Scouts of America et al. v. Dale, 530 U.S. 640 (2000).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boy_Scouts_of_America_v._Dale


    Edit: Yes, "my club my rules" works unless you're covered by the civil rights acts, as in the case of many employers and public accommodations, such as restaurants.
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    16 Feb '17 15:21
    Originally posted by whodey
    I know what you think it says, but all that matters is which stooge political hacks are appointed to SCOTUS.

    They alone have the ability to understand this ever changing, tortured, complicated document. Just leave it to them. 😵
    LOL thats fine but i really need to know whether or not it only applies to government or it also applies in some cases to private organisations. If for example I start a private club can i discriminate on any basis i see fit? In the Uk this is not the case, there is what is termed the equality act and I cannot exclude anyone on the basis of certain criteria. e.g their age, religion, sexual practices etc.
  5. Standard membersh76
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    16 Feb '17 15:241 edit
    Originally posted by robbie carrobie
    LOL thats fine but i really need to know whether or not it only applies to government or it also applies in some cases to private organisations. If for example I start a private club can i discriminate on any basis i see fit? In the Uk this is not the case, there is what is termed the equality act and I cannot exclude anyone on the basis of certain criteria. e.g their age, religion, sexual practices etc.
    === In the Uk this is not the case, there is what is termed the equality act and I cannot exclude anyone on the basis of certain criteria. e.g their age, religion, sexual practices etc. ===

    That is not the case in the US. In the US, if you want to create your own private club, you can discriminate on any basis you like.

    An "Equality Act" that you're describing would probably be struck down as unconstitutional under the Dale case cited above.
  6. Standard membersh76
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    16 Feb '17 15:27
    A more interesting question is whether freedom of association is a natural right.

    I don't know. No1, what do you think? Forgetting commerce clause restrictions (let's say it's a state statute), does the government violate my natural right to privacy/association if it tells me whom I am not allowed to exclude from by Thursday night poker game?
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    16 Feb '17 15:271 edit
    Originally posted by sh76
    The First Amendment doesn't outlaw discrimination except on religious grounds. Other Amendments (mainly the 14th and 5th) address discrimination in other forms.

    But the premise of your question is correct. The Constitution mainly only applies to government action. It does not prohibit discrimination by private citizens or companies (perhaps the 13th Amendmen ...[text shortened]... al. v. Dale, 530 U.S. 640 (2000).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boy_Scouts_of_America_v._Dale
    Thank you sh67 that is incredibly helpful. This idea of commerce and discrimination, its like a kind of work around, right? The government cannot make any inroads directly so we shall use some kind of commerce clause to do what we cannot do directly? Are there any well known cases where the government has used commerce to curtail discrimination against a private organisation?
  8. Standard membersh76
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    16 Feb '17 15:312 edits
    Originally posted by robbie carrobie
    Thank you sh67 that is incredibly helpful. This idea of commerce and discrimination, its like a kind of work around, right? we cannot make any inroads directly so we shall use some kind of commerce clause to do what we cannot do directly? are there any well known cases where the government has used commerce to curtail discrimination against a private organisation?
    Yes, many cases.

    I guess you can say it's a workaround, but it's also a pretty fair proposition that allowing restaurants, hotels and employers to discriminate based on race has a significant effect on commerce.

    When the Civil Rights acts were first passed, they were challenged and the government successfully defended them on commerce clause grounds.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_of_Atlanta_Motel,_Inc._v._United_States

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katzenbach_v._McClung
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    16 Feb '17 15:311 edit
    Originally posted by sh76
    The First Amendment doesn't outlaw discrimination except on religious grounds. Other Amendments (mainly the 14th and 5th) address discrimination in other forms.

    But the premise of your question is correct. The Constitution mainly only applies to government action. It does not prohibit discrimination by private citizens or companies (perhaps the 13th Amendmen ...[text shortened]... il rights acts, as in the case of many employers and public accommodations, such as restaurants.
    What about web sites are they covered by the civil rights act for even though many of them are private organisations they operate in the public domain offering commerce and services to the public?
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    16 Feb '17 15:32
    Originally posted by sh76
    Yes, many cases.

    I guess you can say it's a workaround, but it's also a pretty fair proposition that allowing restaurants, hotels and employers to discriminate based on race has a significant effect on commerce.

    When the Civil Rights acts were first passed, they were challenged and the government successfully defended them on commerce clause grounds.

    h ...[text shortened]... t_of_Atlanta_Motel,_Inc._v._United_States

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katzenbach_v._McClung
    LOL any more goodies like this and I may be liable for legal fees!
  11. Standard membersh76
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    16 Feb '17 15:37
    Originally posted by robbie carrobie
    LOL any more goodies like this and I may be liable for legal fees!
    😀
  12. Standard membersh76
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    16 Feb '17 15:40
    Originally posted by robbie carrobie
    What about web sites are they covered by the civil rights act for even though many of them are private organisations they operate in the public domain offering commerce and services to the public?
    Very complicated issue, of course. But the short (and incomplete answer) is that if a website would be covered by the commerce clause anyway because it's a business or an employer, it's certainly covered online as well.

    In terms of whether the government can regulate the content of online websites, you're dealing more there with free speech issues. I have no authority for this, but I'd say that if a site is unprotected by free speech because it's incitement or obscenity or false commercial speech, Congress could then regulate its content under the commerce clause.
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    16 Feb '17 15:52
    Originally posted by sh76
    Very complicated issue, of course. But the short (and incomplete answer) is that if a website would be covered by the commerce clause anyway because it's a business or an employer, it's certainly covered online as well.

    In terms of whether the government can regulate the content of online websites, you're dealing more there with free speech issues. I have no ...[text shortened]... or false commercial speech, Congress could then regulate its content under the commerce clause.
    Its mind blowing. The civil rights act and commerce clause is pretty clear from what I can tell. If commerce is negatively affected by an act of discrimination then the government has a vested interest in making sure that does not happen. In the case of free speech though its pretty tenuous, one would have to prove that discrimination against free speech is bad for business.
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    16 Feb '17 16:43
    Originally posted by robbie carrobie
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

    Does this amendment solely apply to the government and areas of government ju ...[text shortened]... ganisations are therefore free to discriminate on any basis they see fit? e.g. my club my rules.
    Originally yes.

    Now no.

    The Commies have convinced us that Private Companies are actually public companies.

    Public used to mean government owned. Now everything is public except for your home.
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    16 Feb '17 16:53
    I think it was 1967 when the government starting telling businesses how to run their hiring practices.
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