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CourtSpeak: Civil Rights Cases:
Government’s Role in Private Discrimination (1875)

Racial Discrimination/civil Rights Read more from
Chapter The Waite Court (1874–88)

Justice Joseph P. Bradley (majority): “When a man has emerged from slavery and with the aid of beneficient legislation has shaken off the inseparable concomitants of that state, there must be some stage in the progress of his elevation when he takes the rank of a mere citizen, and ceases to be a special favorite of the laws, and when his rights as a citizen, or a man are to be protected in the ordinary modes by which other men’s rights are protected.”

Justice John Marshall Harlan (dissenting): “My brethren say that when a man has emerged from slavery, and by the aid of beneficient legislation has shaken off the inseparable concomitants of that state, there must be some stage in the progress of his elevation when he takes the rank of a mere citizen, and ceases to be the special favorite of the laws, and when his rights as a citizen, or a man, are to be protected in the ordinary modes by which other men’s rights are protected. It is, I submit, scarcely just to say that the colored race has been the special favorite of the laws…. Today, it is the colored race which is denied, by corporations and individuals wielding public authority, rights fundamental in their freedom and citizenship. At some future time, it may be that some other race will fall under the ban of race discrimination.”

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