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To avert the humiliation of a successful discharge petition, Chairman Smith relented and allowed the bill to pass through the Rules Committee. Both men had come to hear the Senate debate on the bill.Lobbying support for the Civil Rights Act was coordinated by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, a coalition of 70 liberal and labor organizations. This was the only time the two men ever met; their meeting lasted only one minute.Smith, a Democrat and avid segregationist from Virginia, indicated his intention to keep the bill bottled up indefinitely. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, changed the political situation.Kennedy's successor as president, Lyndon Johnson, made use of his experience in legislative politics, along with the bully pulpit he wielded as president, in support of the bill.
After the return of Congress from its winter recess, however, it was apparent that public opinion in the North favored the bill and that the petition would acquire the necessary signatures. and Malcolm X at the United States Capitol on March 26, 1964.
Kennedy was moved to action following the elevated racial tensions and wave of black riots in the spring 1963.
Emulating the Civil Rights Act of 1875, Kennedy's civil rights bill included provisions to ban discrimination in public accommodations, and to enable the U. Attorney General to join in lawsuits against state governments which operated segregated school systems, among other provisions.
It prohibits unequal application of voter registration requirements, racial segregation in schools, employment, and public accommodations.
Powers given to enforce the act were initially weak, but were supplemented during later years.
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Congress asserted its authority to legislate under several different parts of the United States Constitution, principally its power to regulate interstate commerce under Article One (section 8), its duty to guarantee all citizens equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment and its duty to protect voting rights under the Fifteenth Amendment.