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Robert Taft's 1946 Civil Rights Proposal:

Very interesting (but mercifully brief) piece by David Engstrom in the Winter 2006 Green Bag (not yet internet accessible but available on Westlaw at 9 Green Bag 2d 181):

few know that the history of American fair employment law reached an equally critical juncture more than 20 years earlier, in 1946. It was in May of that year that Republican Senator Robert Taft of Ohio, perhaps the leading conservative voice in Congress at the time, privately approached an emerging coalition of civil rights, labor, religious, and civic groups with a draft bill — reproduced in its entirety at the end of this essay — that broadly prohibited job discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, or national origin and empowered federal courts to oversee sweeping injunctive remedies, including the requirement that employers hire a particular quota of protected workers. The stunning details of that proposal, and its quiet rejection by the nascent liberal coalition, offer a window onto the early, pre-Brown politics of civil rights in the United States. What makes the Taft episode so intriguing, however, are the rich counterfactual possibilities it presents. Though the liberal coalition's rejection of the Taft bill prevented its formal introduction in Congress, a contrary response would have fundamentally altered the course of American fair employment law and the American civil rights movement along with it. More sweeping still, it is not at all implausible that enactment of the Taft measure would have transformed the post-war American party system, making Republicans, not the sectionally challenged Democrats, the party of civil rights going forward. It is therefore surprising that Taft's offer has entirely escaped popular or scholarly treatment until now.

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