“What are Civil Rights?”
NY Married Women’s Property Act of 1848
Civil Rights Act of 1866
· The Civil Rights Act of 1866 is a piece of United States legislation that gave further rights to the freed slaves after the end of the American Civil War.
· A far-reaching consequence of this act is that since 1866, it has been illegal to discriminate in housing based on race. However, federal solutions were not provided for, and remedies were left to the individuals involved. Because those being discriminated against had limited access to legal help, this left many victims of discrimination without recourse. Since the latter half of the 20th century, there have been an increasing number of remedies provided under this act, including the landmark Jones v. Mayer decision in 1968.
· Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 was the first major anti-discrimination employment statute. This act prohibited employment discrimination based on race and color. This Act has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to protect African Americans, Asian Americans, white Americans and other groups. · Based on Shaare Tefila Congregation v. Cobb, 481 U.S. 615 (1987) 107 S.Ct. 2019, the Civil Rights Act of 1866 covers people of the Jewish religion because at the time the act was passed, Jewish people were considered a distinct race. Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 protects from discrimination identifiable classes of persons who are subjected to intentional discrimination solely because of their ancestry or ethnic characteristics. Similarly, Arabs are protected under the act.
Lochner v. New York (US 1905)
· held a “liberty of contract” was implicit in the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The case involved a New York law that limited the number of hours that a baker could work each day to ten, and limited the number of hours that a baker could work each week to 60. By a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court rejected the argument that the law was necessary to protect the health of bakers, deciding it was a labor law attempting to regulate the terms of employment, and calling it an “unreasonable, unnecessary and arbitrary interference with the right and liberty of the individual to contract.” Justice Rufus Peckham wrote for the majority, while Justices John Marshall Harlan and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. filed dissents.
· Lochner was one of the most controversial decisions in the Supreme Court’s history, starting what is now known as the Lochner era. In the Lochner era, the Supreme Court invalidated scores of federal and state statutes that sought to regulate working conditions during the Progressive Era and the Great Depression. A typical criticism of the decision is that the Court discarded sound constitutional interpretation in favor of personal ideology, favoring property rights over the efforts of democratic majorities to enact progressive economic regulations. This was reflected in Justice Holmes’ dissent, in which he wrote that “[t]he Fourteenth Amendment does not enact Mr. Herbert Spencer’s Social Statics.” This was a reference to a book in which Spencer advocated a strict libertarian philosophy.
· During the quarter-century that followed Lochner, the Supreme Court generally upheld economic regulations, but also issued several rulings invalidating such regulations. The Court also began to use the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to protect personal (as opposed to purely property) rights, including freedom of speech and the right to send one’s child to private school (which was the beginning of a line of cases interpreting privacy rights). The Lochner era is considered to have ended with West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish (1937), in which the Supreme Court took a much broader view of the government’s power to regulate economic activities.
Muller v. Oregon (US 1908)
· was a landmark decision in United States Supreme Court history, as it relates to both sex discrimination and usage and labor laws. The case upheld Oregon state restrictions on the working hours of women as justified by the special state interest in protecting women’s health.
· Curt Muller, the owner of a laundry business, was convicted of violating Oregon labor laws by making a female employee work more than ten hours in a single day. Muller was fined $10. Muller appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court and then to the U.S. Supreme Court, both of which upheld the constitutionality of the labor law and affirmed his conviction.
· The case was decided a mere three years after Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45 (1905), in which a New York law restricting the weekly working hours of bakers was invalidated.
· In JusticeDavid Josiah Brewer’s unanimous opinion in Muller, the Court upheld the Oregon regulation. The Court did not overrule Lochner, but instead distinguished it on the basis of “the difference between the sexes.” The child-bearing physiology and social role of women provided a strong state interest in reducing their working hours.
· “That woman’s physical structure and the performance of maternal functions place her at a disadvantage in the struggle for subsistence is obvious. This is especially true when the burdens of motherhood are upon her. Even when they are not, by abundant testimony of the medical fraternity continuance for a long time on her feet at work, repeating this from day to day, tends to injurious effects upon the body, and as healthy mothers are essential to vigorous offspring, the physical well-being of woman becomes an object of public interest and care in order to preserve the strength and vigor of the race.” 208 U.S. at 412.
· Future Supreme Court justice, Louis Brandeis, as additional counsel for the State of Oregon, filed a voluminous brief in support of the Oregon law that collected empirical data from hundreds of sources. In what became known as the “Brandeis Brief”, the report provided social authorities on the issue of the impact of long working hours on women. This was the first instance in the United States that social science had been used in law and changed the direction of the Supreme Court and of U.S. law. The Brandeis Brief became the model for future Supreme Court presentations.
Suzanne La Follette, Concerning Women: The Economic Position of Women
Runyon v. McCrary (US 1976)
· was a case heard before the United States Supreme Court which held that federal law prohibited private schools from discriminating on the basis of race. Dissenting Justice White argued that the legislative history of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (popularly known as the “Ku Klux Klan Act”) indicated that the Act was not designed to prohibit private racial discrimination, but only state-sponsored racial discrimination (as had been held in the Civil Rights Cases of 1883). White was concerned about the potential far-reaching impact of holding private racial discrimination illegal, which if taken to its logical conclusion might ban many varied forms of voluntary self-segregation, including social and advocacy groups that limited their membership to blacks. · Runyon’s holding was severely limited by Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 491 U.S.164 (1989), which narrowly construed Section 1981 to not apply to any discrimination occurring after the making of a contract, such as racial harassment on the job (although the Patterson majority expressly claimed that they were not overruling Runyon). In turn, Patterson was legislatively overruled by the Civil Rights Act of 1991.
James Madison Quote
Slavery and the Constitution
Original Provisions of the Constitution Concerning Slavery
Essay on Frederick Douglas
· The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished and continues to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It was adopted on December 6, 1865, and was then declared in a proclamation of Secretary of StateWilliam H. Seward on December 18.
· President Abraham Lincoln and others were concerned that the Emancipation Proclamation would be seen as a temporary war measure and so, besides freeing slaves in those states where slavery was still legal, they supported the amendment as a means to guarantee the permanent abolition of slavery.
· The Thirteenth Amendment is the first of the Reconstruction Amendments.
Peonage Abolition Act of 1867
Bailey v. Alabama (US 1911)
· was a United States Supreme Court case which overturned the peonage laws of Alabama. The Alonzo Bailey case is regarded as being the most important case of its kind after the Dred Scott v. Sandford decision, 60 U.S.393 (1857).
· Alonzo Bailey was a African American from Alabama who agreed to work for one year at $12 per month. He received an advance of $15. After working for a little over a month he stopped work, but did not refund any money. According to Alabama law such refusal to work and refund the money was prima facie evidence of intent to defraud.
· The Supreme Court found that holding a person criminally liable for taking money for work not performed was akin to indentured servitude, outlawed by the Thirteenth Amendment, insofar as it required that person to work rather than be found guilty of a crime. The case is important because the peonage laws of the State of Alabama were found to be unconstitutional.
· was adopted after the Civil War as one of the Reconstruction Amendments on July 9, 1868. The amendment provides a broad definition of citizenship, overruling the decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), which had excluded slaves, and their descendants, from possessing Constitutional rights; this was used in the mid-20th century to dismantle racial segregation in the United States, as in Brown v. Board of Education (1954). Its Due Process Clause has been used to apply most of the Bill of Rights to the states. This clause has also been used to recognize: (1) substantive due process rights, such as parental and marriage rights; and (2) procedural due process rights requiring that certain steps, such as a hearing, be followed before a person’s “life, liberty, or property” can be taken away. The amendment’s Equal Protection Clause requires states to provide equal protection under the law to all people within their jurisdictions. The amendment also includes a number of clauses dealing with the Confederacy and its officials.
Mississippi Black Code
Slaughter House Cases (US 1873)
· was the first United States Supreme Court interpretation of the relatively new Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. It is viewed as a pivotal case in early civil rights law, reading the Fourteenth Amendment as protecting the “privileges or immunities” conferred by virtue of the United States citizenship to all individuals of all states within it.
· In a five-four decision issued on April 14, 1873, by Justice Samuel Freeman Miller, a former physician who wrote his medical school dissertation on cholera, the Court held to a narrow interpretation of the amendment and ruled that it did not restrict the police powers of the state. The Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities clause affected only rights of United States citizenship and not state citizenship. Therefore the butchers’ Fourteenth Amendment rights had not been violated. At the time, the Court viewed due process in a procedural light rather than substantively. The Court further held that the amendment was primarily intended to protect former slaves and so could not be broadly applied.
President Andrew Johnson’s Veto Message (1866)
· The Democratic Party, proclaiming itself the party of white men, North and South, aligned with Johnson. However, the Republicans in Congress overrode his veto (the Senate by the vote of 33:15, the House by 182:41) and the Civil Rights measure became law.
Univ. Of Alabama v. Garrett (US 2001)
· was a United States Supreme Court case about Congress’senforcement powers under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. It decided that Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act was unconstitutional insofar as it allowed states to be sued by private citizens for money damages.
· The plaintiffs were Milton Ash and Patricia Garrett, employees of the University of Alabama school system. Both were disabled under the definition of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Ash was a security guard who had a lifelong history of severe asthma, and Garrett was a nurse who had been diagnosed with breast cancer requiring time-consuming radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Both alleged that they had been discriminated against at their jobs; the University had refused to assign Ash to duties that would alleviate his asthma, and insisted on transferring Garrett due to her absences. Ash and Garrett filed a suit in federal court against the University of Alabama for damages, arguing that the University had violated Title I of the ADA, the part of the ADA prohibiting discrimination in employment on the basis of disability.
· The University of Alabama responded with a motion to dismiss on the grounds that the Eleventh Amendment prohibited the suit. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama dismissed both cases on this ground, but the Eleventh Circuit reversed, holding that Cong
While a victory for the rights of black defendants and an important early civil rights case, Strauder v. West Virginia upheld the right of states to bar women or other classes from juries, holding, in the words of Justice Strong, that a state “may confine the selection to males, to freeholders, to citizens, to persons within certain ages, or to persons having educational qualifications. We do not believe the Fourteenth Amendment was ever intended to prohibit this. … Its aim against discrimination because of race and color.” The precedent set by Strauder has continued to influence rulings in cases as late as 1961 in Hoyt v. Florida, 368 U.S. 57 (1961)
Louisville, New Orleans & Texas Railway v. Mississppi (US 1890)
· The Court upheld the constitutionality of a Mississippi statute that required railroads to provide “equal, but separate, accommodation for the white and colored races.” The railroad argued that the statute was unconstitutional because its substantial effect on interstate commerce violated the Commerce Clause. Unlike arguments that would mature in the twentieth century, the case did not involve the Fourteenth Amendment. The Mississippi statute, in its effect on interstate commerce, seemed identical to a Louisiana statute that had been declared unconstitutional in Hall v. DeCuir (1878). Both statutes used race as the criterion for determining treatment of passengers. The Louisiana statute mandated that all parts of vehicles be open to passengers, regardless of race; the Mississippi statute required separation by race, into “equal” facilities. In spite of the apparent similarities, the Court upheld the Mississippi statute. The inconsistency between the two decisions evidences the Court’s struggle to define federalism in the late nineteenth century. The Court had already so narrowed the scope of the Civil War Amendments that the national government had little role to play in protecting individual rights. Here, through interpretation of the Commerce Clause, the Court continued its efforts to preserve a major role for the states. Accordingly, Justice David J. Brewer accepted without question the Supreme Court of Mississippi’s view that the statute applied only to intrastate commerce. The Court saw no significant burden on interstate commerce from the requirement that railroads add an additional car upon entering the state. Justice John Marshall Harlan dissented on the ground that the state statute was an unconstitutional regulation of interstate commerce.
Berea College v. Kennedy (US 1908)
Gong Lum v. Rice (US 1927)
· is a famous case decided by the United States Supreme Court. The decision effectively approved the exclusion of minority children from schools reserved for whites.
· In 1924, a nine-year old Chinese-American named Martha Lum, daughter of Gong Lum, was prohibited from attending the Rosedale Consolidated High School in Bolivar County, Mississippi solely because she was of Chinese descent.
· There was no school in the district maintained for Chinese students, and she was forced by compulsory attendance laws to attend school.
· A lower court granted the plaintiff’s request of a writ of mandamus to force the members of the Board of Trustees to admit Martha Lum. Gong Lum’s case was not that racial discrimination as such was illegal, but that his daughter, being Chinese, had incorrectly been classified as colored by the authorities.
· Since the ruling went against them, the Board of Trustees became the plaintiff and Lum was named the defendant in the case Rice v. Gong Lum, which was heard in the Supreme Court of Mississippi. The state Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s decision and allowed the board of trustees to exclude Martha Lum from the school for white children.
· Gong Lum appealed the state Supreme Court’s ruling to the federal Supreme Court. In an opinion written by Chief Justice William Howard Taft, the Supreme Court affirmed the state Supreme Court’s ruling and thus the position of the board of trustees. Martha Lum was not allowed to go to the school for white children.
Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada (US 1938)
· was a United States Supreme Court decision holding that states that provide a school to white students must provide in-state education to blacks as well. States can satisfy this requirement by allowing blacks and whites to attend the same school or creating a second school for blacks.
· The Law School at the University of Missouri refused admission to Lloyd Gaines because he was an African-American. Currently there was no Law School specifically for African-Americans. Gaines cited that this refusal violated his Fourteenth Amendment right. The state of Missouri had offered to pay for Gaines’ tuition at an adjacent state’s law school, which he turned down.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Hughes held that when the state provides legal training, it must provide it to every qualified person to satisfy equal protection. It cannot send them to other states, nor can it condition that training for one group of people (such as blacks) on levels of demand from that group. Key to the court’s conclusion was that there was no provision for legal education of blacks in Missouri, which is where Missouri law guaranteeing equal protection applies. To the court, sending Gaines to another state