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Union by LawFilipino American Labor Activists, Rights Radicalism, and Racial Capitalism$
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Michael W. McCann and George I. Lovell

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226679877

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226680071.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 19 January 2022

Wards Cove v. Atonio

Wards Cove v. Atonio

The Execution of “Good” Civil Rights Law

(p.305) 6 Wards Cove v. Atonio
Union by Law

Michael W. McCann

George I. Lovell

University of Chicago Press

This chapter picks up the narrative history regarding the three class action suits filed in the 1970s by the ACWA as disparate impact cases under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. While Chapter 5 outlined the “political” mobilization around the lawsuits, Chapter 6 follows what happened in the courts. First, we expand on the activists’ jurisgenetic vision mobilizing disparate impact claims for radical challenges to institutional racism. Second, the chapter explores what happened to the three lawsuits in federal court, and especially to how the Wards Cove v Atonio case lost at trial, won on appeal several times, and ultimately was crushed in dismissive fashion by a five justice majority at the Supreme Court, illustrating our claim about the power of “racial innocence.” Third, we document the extra-judicial politics that shaped the court decision, Reagan administration legal policy, subsequent legislation to override the opinion, and special legislation that excluded the original Filipino plaintiffs from relief under the new 1991 Civil Rights Act. The chapter ends by invoking extant empirical studies about the dramatic impact on workers of the jurispathic ruling in Wards Cove and other lawsuits as well as neoliberal corporate strategies of co-opting civil rights.

Keywords:   civil rights, Wards Cove v. Atonio, institutional racism, Reagan administration, neoliberal, racial innocence, disparate impact, 1991 Civil Rights Act, jurispathic

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