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Controversy has swirled around civil rights issues in the United States for as long as these issues have been discussed. Nevertheless, for at least the past forty years, our society has basically agreed on some civil rights principles. For the past two decades, federal civil rights laws have protected citizens, to an ever expanding degree, from a variety of forms of discrimination, particularly in the areas of voting, education, and employment. If national civil rights policy, as reflected in federal laws, is to be translated into real protection in the lives of citizens, however, public officials must aggressively enforce these laws. This article first will outline the national consensus to eliminate various forms of discrimination, and then will procede to demonstrate how the Reagan Administration has inadequately enforced and otherwise undermined, if not violated outright, settled law in the field of civil rights.

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