Concept

Civil Rights Cases

Summary
The Civil Rights Cases, 109 U.S. 3 (1883), were a group of five landmark cases in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments did not empower Congress to outlaw racial discrimination by private individuals. The holding that the Thirteenth Amendment did not empower the federal government to punish racist acts done by private citizens would be overturned by the Supreme Court in the 1968 case Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co. The Fourteenth Amendment not applying to private entities, however, is still valid precedent to this day. Although the Fourteenth Amendment-related decision has never been overturned, in the 1964 case of Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States, the Supreme Court held that Congress could prohibit racial discrimination by private actors under the Commerce Clause, though that and other loose interpretations of the Clause to expand federal power have been subject to criticism. During Reconstruction, Congress had pas
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