Statement of Ralph G. Neas
“Once again, we stand together, uniting for a common and critical goal. Countless times before, we have come to Congress to encourage, demand and stand for legislation that would protect the rights of ordinary Americans.
“What we are trying to accomplish here is not unprecedented. During the Reagan and George H.W. Bush presidencies, this same coalition, with huge bipartisan congressional majorities, overturned more than a dozen Supreme Court decisions that turned back the clock on civil rights. We ended up strengthening every major civil rights law on the books and even added protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act. There is a broad consensus among the American people for fairness and equal opportunity. We did it once, we can do it again.
“We have seen victims of discrimination left without any remedy. As a result of certain federal court decisions Americans seeking justice have come up empty handed. In fact, their very ability to demand the rights they deserve and the equal protections they have earned has been stripped away. And today we join together to ask for those rights to be restored.
“In America, people may believe that discrimination has been wiped away. Unfortunately, this is not the case. But this bill will help close the loopholes created by certain court decisions and help make that dream a reality. We can help ensure that older workers will be judged by their abilities and not their age. We can offer the same protections against discrimination enjoyed by workers in the private sector to the millions of state employees who work as faithful public servants. We can finally address the gap in pay for women in the workplace, and we can ensure that those seeking justice don’t hit a brick wall of expenses and obstacles on their quest.
“Like the other civil rights landmarks of the past fifty years, the Civil Rights Act of 2004 will right critical wrongs, restoring key protections which have been eroded through litigation and a Supreme Court dominated by the right wing. With the FAIRNESS Act, Congress’ good intentions will be preserved.”