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I Just Did Say That!

You Can’t Say That!  The Growing Threat to Civil Liberties From Antidiscrimination Laws

by David E. Bernstein

Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute; 197 pp., $20.00

A Miller Brewing Company executive is fired for retelling a racy segment of a Seinfeld episode at the watercooler.  An unwed teacher successfully sues the parochial school that fired her for becoming pregnant out of wedlock, despite being contractually obligated to serve as a Christian role model for her students.  Nominally Catholic Georgetown University is coerced by the threat of costly lawsuits into funding homosexual student groups.  These are just a few of the examples of civil-liberties violations provided by David Bernstein in You Can’t Say That!, an important study of the infringements on First Amendment freedoms by antidiscrimination laws.

Bernstein, an associate professor of law at George Mason University, traces the origins of these laws to the civil-rights movement, and the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act in particular.  Through this act, and later legislation such as the Fair Housing Act, legislators unwittingly presented judges with a means to undermine the First Amendment; with the passage of time, other minority groups clamored for the protection of these laws.  As the American elite became increasingly preoccupied with the...

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