The Waite Court (1874–88)

Racial Discrimination/civil Rights

Who was the Court’s lone dissenter in the Civil Rights Cases?

Justice John Marshall Harlan, a former slave owner from the state of Kentucky, established his reputation as “the Great Dissenter” with his lone dissent in the Civil Rights Cases. He wrote that “the substance and spirit of the recent amendments of the Constitution have been sacrificed by a subtle and ingenious verbal criticism.”

He also noted that the state had a role in providing its citizens protection in places of public accommodation:

In every material sense applicable to the practical enforcement of the Fourteenth Amendment, railroad corporations, keepers of inns, and managers of places of public accommodation are agents or instrumentalities of the State, because they are charged with duties to the public, and are amenable, in respect of their duties and functions, to governmental regulation.


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