Tlaib proposes changes to Civil Rights Act

July 11, 2018


A Detroit Democrat running for former U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr.’s open seat is proposing sweeping changes to the nation’s Civil Rights Act if elected.


Former State Rep. Rashida Tlaib said Wednesday she wants to target policies that disproportionately affect people of color, tighten the Title IX law and end the overuse of mandatory arbitration in corporate discrimination cases.


The first Muslim woman elected to the Michigan Legislature and a lawyer for the Sugar Law Center for Economic & Social Justice, Tlaib is one of six candidates in a crowded Democratic primary race to replace Conyers, who resigned in December amid sexual harassment allegations by former staffers. She could be the first Muslim woman to serve in Congress.


Among her Democratic opponents are Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, state Sen. Ian Conyers of Detroit, former state Rep. Shanelle Jackson of Detroit, Westland Mayor Bill Wild and state Sen. Coleman A. Young II. 


The proposed changes would help to restore the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to its original intent, Tlaib said, and were inspired by complaints from “overwhelmed” residents she met while campaigning door-to-door. Introducing the changes would be her first act as a congresswoman, if elected, Tlaib said. 


“It’s 55 years old and it’s time,” Tlaib said the Civil Rights Act. “It’s time to look at this in a much more in-depth way.”


Civil rights was a big issue for former Congressman Conyers, who represented a Detroit-based district for more than a half-century. A large chunk of the 13th Congressional District includes a section of Detroit, whose population is predominantly African-American.


The changes Tlaib proposes would allow victims to file civil rights lawsuits based on

disparate impact — for individuals and in certain private, regulated industries. She said she wants to eliminate barriers in Title IX cases that “create incentives” for officials to remain ignorant of problems.  And she seeks to end the abuse of “mandatory arbitration” in corporate discrimination cases. 


The changes would help practices such as “redlining,” or refusing car and home loans or insurance to people who live in low-income areas; law enforcement profiling; sentencing inconsistencies; the use of credit scores to determine qualification for loans, insurance or employment; shutoffs of water and utility services and unfair tax assessments and foreclosures. She also argues the reforms would overturn state and federal budget policies that restrict low-income communities of color from getting funding for infrastructure, schools, hospitals and community recreation facilities.


“These are things that will help transform the lives of families for the better,” Tlaib said.


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