Washington--A coalition of 165 Republican and Democratic Congressmen introduced bills in the House and Senate last week designed to restore to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and three other anti-discrimination statutes the broad scope they said was originally intended by the Congress.
The introduction of the legislation marks a direct and bipartisan response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s narrow interpretation in Grove City College v. Bell of the federal law barring sex discrimination in federally aided education programs.
In the decision, which was handed down in February, a majority of the justices argued that Grove City College, a private Pennsylvania college that shuns federal assistance, could not be forced to comply with Title IX institutionwide, but only in its student-aid program, the only “program or activity” that involved federal funds.
In addition to Title IX, the proposed bill, which is called the omnibus civil-rights act of 1984, would affect Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, disability, and age, respectively, in programs or activities receiving federal assistance.
Under the bill, the language of the statutes would be modified to delete the reference to “program or activity” and to substitute the term, “recipient,” so that an entire institution would be prohibited from discriminating when any of its component programs receive federal funds. With respect to Title IX, the limitation to education would be retained.
“The clear message that we are sending is that ... the bipartisan coalition for civil rights is alive and well in the Congress in 1984,” Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts and a chief sponsor of the bill, said at a press conference last week.
Senator Alan Cranston, Democrat of California, called for prompt action in the Congress. “Legal circles may debate the precise impact of the Supreme Court decision, but one thing is absolutely clear,” Mr. Cranston said. “The Reagan Administration will use that decision as an excuse to dismantle still further federal mechanisms for civil-rights enforcement.”
“Despite this legislation’s import,” noted Representative Clauel45ldine Schneider, Republican of Rhode Island and a sponsor of the legislation, “we all must remember that we are breaking no new ground today, but simply reaffirming policy that has been advanced by numerous federal regulatory agencies over the past 10 years.”
The legislation has been endorsed by 40 civil-rights, education, and women’s groups, including the afl-cio, the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education, the United States Student Association, the Project on Equal Education Rights of the now Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the National Women’s Political Caucus. The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, a coalition of 165 national organizations, has also endorsed the legislation.
A version of this article appeared in the April 11, 1984 edition of Education Week as Bill Introduced in Congress To Restore Broad Scope to Title IX