How did the plessy v. ferguson decision differ from earlier interpertations of the equal protection clause?

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  • 8 years ago
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    The constraints of Yahoo! Answers permit only a brief answer to your good question.


    After the Civil War, during the era of Reconstruction, black Americans’ political rights were affirmed by the 13th, 14th (including what is known as the Equal Protection Clause) and 15th Amendments to the Constitution and numerous laws passed by Congress. Racial discrimination was attacked on a particularly broad front by the Civil Rights Act of 1875. This legislation made it a crime for an individual to deny "the full and equal enjoyment of any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of inns, public conveyances on land or water, theaters and other places of public amusement; subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law, and applicable alike to citizens of every race and color."

    In 1883, the U.S.Supreme Court struck down the 1875 Act, ruling that the 14th Amendment did NOT give Congress authority to prevent discrimination by private individuals. Victims of racial discrimination were told to seek relief not from the Federal Government, but from the states. However, state governments were passing legislation that codified inequality between the races.


    In 1890, Louisiana passed the Separate Car Act. It required either separate passenger coaches or partitioned coaches to provide segregated accommodations for each race.


    Homer Plessy, the plaintiff in the case, was seven-eighths white and one-eighth black, and had the appearance of a white man. On June 7, 1892, he purchased a first-class ticket for a trip between New Orleans and Covington, LA., and took possession of a vacant seat in a white-only car. Under Louisiana's Separate Car Act (1890), he was arrested and imprisoned.

    Plessy was brought to trial in a New Orleans court and convicted of violating the 1890 law. Plessy argued that the Separate Car Act violated the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. Ironically, the judge at the trial was John Howard Ferguson, a lawyer from Massachusetts, who had previously regarded the Act to be unconstitutional as it applied to interstate travel. He reasoned that the Act as applied to trains which traveled through several states violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

    However, in Plessy's case, he decided that the state could choose to regulate railroad companies that operated only within Louisiana. He found Plessy guilty of refusing to leave the white car. Plessy appealed to the Supreme Court of Louisiana, which upheld Ferguson's decision. In 1896, the Supreme Court of the United States heard Plessy's case.

    By a 7-1 vote (with one Justice not participating), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Louisiana law and thus Homer Plessy's conviction for having violated it. Justice Henry Brown wrote the opinion for the majority of the Court.

    Regarding the Equal Protection Clause of the14th Amendment, Justice Brown wrote, in pertinent part: "The object was undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two races before the law, BUT [emphasis added], in the nature of things, it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon color, or to enforce social, as distinguished from political, equality, or a commingling of the two races upon terms unsatisfactory to either. Laws permitting, and even requiring, their separation in places where they are liable to be brought into contact do not necessarily imply the inferiority of either race to the other …"

    Justice Brown concluded with these remarks: "We consider the underlying fallacy of the plaintiff's argument to consist in the assumption that the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority. If this be so, it is not by reason of anything found in the Act, but solely because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it. … The argument also assumes that … equal rights cannot be secured to the ***** except by an enforced commingling of the two races. We cannot accept this proposition. If the two races are to meet upon terms of social equality, it must be the result of natural affinities, a mutual appreciation of each other's merits, and a voluntary consent of individuals."

    Thus, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a state law that allowed equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races; and this was the law of the land until 1954.

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  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    you're an entire moron.. Do you have a single shred of information to assist your declare? then you certainly website a obscure, 116-3 hundred and sixty 5 days-old ultimate court docket case to assist your tirade. additionally P vs. F had no longer something to do with homosexuals, this some thing you added. Your BS "separate yet equivalent" tirade is added destroyed via Brown vs. Board of coaching in 1954. along with your ridiculous thread on my own you nevertheless instruct my theory that that's liberals such as you which of them are the racist, prejudiced, stereotyping, illiberal jack*sses you declare us conservatives to be. Your 1st act of prejudice (stereotyping): "The GOP is southern whites" - No we are actually not. i'm a million/4 interior of reach American, so is my spouse. I stay in Southern California. wager that blows your theory top out of the water. 2nd act of prejudice (extra stereotyping): You declare that in simple terms conservatives are actually not rapidly responsible for gay discrimination. data: whilst Proposition 8 - Banning gay Marriage handed right here in California, do you already know the biggest phase of the inhabitants that voted for Prop 8 have been BLACK LiberalsDemocrats? the 2nd greatest phase grow to be liberal Hispanics!! positioned's some holes on your "conservative in simple terms" theory... howdy, i choose to thank you for helping me instruct my theory that that is incredibly liberals such as you which of them are the illiberal, prejudiced fools you declare conservatives like me to be... could no longer do it without you! before you circulate pointing palms at others transgressions, possibly you could look inward at your very own prejudices.

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