Thursday, November 14, 2013

Plessy v. Ferguson case brief

Plessy v. Ferguson case brief summary
163 U.S. 537 (1896)

Petitioner prayed for a writ of error to review a judgment from the Louisiana Supreme Court. The state supreme court upheld the constitutionality of 1890 La. Acts No. 111, p. 152, which provided for separate railway carriages for whites and blacks.

Petitioner, who was charged by information with violating 1890 La. Acts No. 111, p. 152, argued that the statute was unconstitutional. The state supreme court disagreed and denied petitioner's request for a writ of prohibition.


  • The United States Supreme Court affirmed. 
  • The statute did not conflict with the Thirteenth Amendment. A statute that implied merely a legal distinction between differing races did not tend to destroy the legal equality of the two races or to reestablish a state of involuntary servitude. 
  • The statute also did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment. 
  • In determining whether the statute was a reasonable regulation, the Louisiana legislature was given a large amount of discretion; the legislature was at liberty to act with reference to the established usages, customs, and traditions of the people, and with a view to preserving public peace and good order. 
  • The Court rejected petitioner's argument that the separation of the two races stamped one race with a badge of inferiority. 
  • A legislature had to secure for its citizens equal rights before the law. 
  • If one race was inferior to another socially, the Federal Constitution could not put the two races upon the same plane.

The Court affirmed the judgment.

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