What civil rights laws were passed or extended in the United States during the 1980s?

Both presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush openly campaigned against quotas and civil rights legislation, and filled the federal courts with white conservatives opposed to the civil rights gains of the 1960s and 1970s.

Reagan’s administration slowed down enforcement of certain civil rights laws and opposed government-enforced quotas and “goals and timetables.”

In 1986, however, the Supreme Court supported the limited use of affirmative action to help minority groups compensate for past job discrimination. In 1987 the Court upheld the right of employers to extend preferential treatment to minorities and women in order to achieve a more balanced workforce.

In 1989, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority moved toward reversing earlier gains by making it harder for women and minorities to use the courts to fight discrimination in hiring or on the job. President George Bush signed the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which limited affirmative action.

Carol Moseley-Braun was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992, becoming the first black woman senator.