Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Civil Rights Cases brief

The Civil Rights Cases (1883) Example of judicial activism

Prohibited private racial discrimination. Court held it’s unconstitutional and adopted a restrictive view of the power of Congress to use these provisions to regulate private behavior. The 14th A. only applies to state and local government behavior, not to private conduct.
The Civil Rights Act, which prohibited private race discrimination, was deemed unconstitutional. The court used §5 of the 14th A. to support this holding, and said that §2 of the 13th A. was inapplicable because refusal to serve a person was “an ordinary civil injury”, not a “badge of slavery”. States primary guarantors of the rights of their citizens and federal government may protect those rights ONLY IF the states fail to do so. This is a reversal of the logical consequences of 13th, 14th, 15th As. to reduce fallback position and for federal government to be the guarantor of those rights.
Bradley’s view of scope of 14th A.: Narrow view, did not allow statute to fit w/in 13th A, only in relation to slavery. Must be able to find that Civil Rights Act constitutional under 13th A. b/c not under 14th. Bradley ultimately saying that individual invasion of individual rights not subject matter of 14th A.
Bradley’s interpretation of 13th A.: B/c there was this kind of discrimination in free states where blacks had some rights before 14th A., could not be a badge of slavery because this existed in areas where there wasn’t slavery. Bradley distinguished b/w “rights” and “privileges.
Harlan’s dissent: Harlan, unlike Bradley, thinks that P or I clause creates national citizenship in an affirmative way, not as a default position. Institution of slavery based on premise of inferiority of races. Any action perpetuating inferiority is perpetuated by the 13th A. Harlan rebuts Bradley’s assertion that allowing Civil Rights Act to stand is an intrusion into private rights by arguing that Congress owes special duties to people. If you held yourself out to the public, there are duties within it that could be regulated by the state.

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