The Waite Court (1874–88)

Racial Discrimination/civil Rights

The Waite Court invalidated the Civil Rights Act of 1875 in what group of cases?

The Waite Court ruled in the Civil Rights Cases (1883) that Congress exceeded its constitutional authority in the Civil Rights Act of 1875 by outlawing private acts of discrimination. According to the Court, the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, which outlawed slavery and gave all persons rights of citizenship, only extended to protect individuals from unlawful governmental, or state, action. The Civil Rights Act of 1875, by contrast, extended to protect African Americans from private wrongs. The Act outlawed racial discrimination in places of public accommodation, such as inns and railroads. “It would be running the slavery argument into the ground to make it apply to every act of discrimination,” Justice Joseph Bradley wrote for the Court. He added that at some point African Americans “cease to be the special favorites of the laws.”


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