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The civil rights movement, a decades-long effort to win equitable treatment for African Americans and other groups underrepresented in American society, is described chronologically in this entry. Two themes are evident. First, federal protection of civil rights has a paradoxical relationship with states' rights. All civil rights legislation has been opposed or limited in response to the argument that pursuant to the Tenth Amendment, the federal government should not involve itself in areas of state responsibility. The Supreme Court repeatedly voiced this concern and, in the past, invalidated civil rights legislation partly on this ground.

Deference to state law enforcement prerogatives always has been a centerpiece of Justice Department civil rights enforcement policy. For decades, Congress repeatedly rebuffed so basic a measure as antilynching legislation ...

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