Plessy v. Ferguson: Separate But Equal Doctrine

Plessy v. Ferguson: Separate But Equal Doctrine


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Plessy v. Ferguson was a landmark 1896 U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation under the “separate but equal” doctrine. The case stemmed from an 1892 incident in which African American train passenger Homer Plessy refused to sit in a car for Black people. Rejecting Plessy’s argument that his constitutional rights were violated, the Supreme Court ruled that a law that “implies merely a legal distinction” between white people and Black people was not unconstitutional. As a result, restrictive Jim Crow legislation and separate public accommodations based on race became commonplace.

Plessy v. Ferguson: Background and Context

After the Compromise of 1877 led to the withdrawal of federal troops from the South, Democrats consolidated control of state legislatures throughout the region, effectively marking the end of Reconstruction.

Southern Black people saw the promise of equality under the law embodied by the 13th Amendment, 14th Amendment and 15th Amendment to the Constitution receding quickly, and a return to disenfranchisement and other disadvantages as white supremacy reasserted itself across the South.

As historian C. Vann Woodward pointed out in a 1964 article about Plessy v. Ferguson, white and Black Southerners mixed relatively freely until the 1880s, when state legislatures passed the first laws requiring railroads to provide separate cars for “Negro” or “colored” passengers.

Florida became the first state to mandate segregated railroad cars in 1887, followed in quick succession by Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana and other states by the end of the century.

Black Resistance to Segregation

As Southern Black people witnessed with horror the dawn of the Jim Crow era, members of the Black community in New Orleans decided to mount a resistance.

At the heart of the case that became Plessy v. Ferguson was a law passed in Louisiana in 1890 “providing for separate railway carriages for the white and colored races.” It stipulated that all passenger railways had to provide these separate cars, which should be equal in facilities.

Homer Adolph Plessy, who agreed to be the plaintiff in the case aimed at testing the law’s constitutionality, was of mixed race; he described himself as “seven-eighths Caucasian and one-eighth African blood.”

On June 7, 1892, Plessy bought a ticket on a train from New Orleans bound for Covington, Louisiana, and took a vacant seat in a whites-only car. After refusing to leave the car at the conductor’s insistence, he was arrested and jailed.

Convicted by a New Orleans court of violating the 1890 law, Plessy filed a petition against the presiding judge, Hon. John H. Ferguson, claiming that the law violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Supreme Court Ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson

Over the next few years, segregation and Black disenfranchisement picked up pace in the South, and was more than tolerated by the North. Congress defeated a bill that would have given federal protection to elections in 1892, and nullified a number of Reconstruction laws on the books.

Then, on May 18, 1896, the Supreme Court delivered its verdict in Plessy v. Ferguson. In declaring separate-but-equal facilities constitutional on intrastate railroads, the Court ruled that the protections of 14th Amendment applied only to political and civil rights (like voting and jury service), not “social rights” (sitting in the railroad car of your choice).

In its ruling, the Court denied that segregated railroad cars for Black people were necessarily inferior. “We consider the underlying fallacy of [Plessy’s] argument,” Justice Henry Brown wrote, “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.”

John Marshall Harlan’s Dissent

Alone in the minority was Justice John Marshall Harlan, a former slaveholder from Kentucky. Harlan had opposed emancipation and civil rights for freed slaves during the Reconstruction era – but changed his position due to his outrage over the actions of white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan.

Harlan argued in his dissent that segregation ran counter to the constitutional principle of equality under the law: “The arbitrary separation of citizens on the basis of race while they are on a public highway is a badge of servitude wholly inconsistent with the civil freedom and the equality before the law established by the Constitution,” he wrote. “It cannot be justified upon any legal grounds.”

Plessy v. Ferguson Significance

The Plessy v. Ferguson verdict enshrined the doctrine of “separate but equal” as a constitutional justification for segregation, ensuring the survival of the Jim Crow South for the next half-century.

Intrastate railroads were among many segregated public facilities the verdict sanctioned; others included buses, hotels, theaters, swimming pools and schools. By the time of the 1899 case Cummings v. Board of Education, even Harlan appeared to agree that segregated public schools did not violate the Constitution.

It would not be until the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, at the dawn of the civil rights movement, that the majority of the Supreme Court would essentially concur with Harlan’s opinion in Plessy v. Ferguson..

Writing the majority opinion in that 1954 case, Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote that “the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place” in public education, calling segregated schools “inherently unequal,” and declaring that the plaintiffs in the Brown case were being “deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.”

READ MORE: Civil Rights Movement Timeline

Sources

C. Vann Woodward, “Plessy v. Ferguson: The Birth of Jim Crow,” American Heritage (Volume 15, Issue 3: April 1964).
Landmark Cases: Plessy v. Ferguson, PBS: The Supreme Court – The First Hundred Years.
Louis Menand, “Brown v. Board of Education and the Limits of Law,” The New Yorker (February 12, 2001).
Today in History – May 18: Plessy v. Ferguson, Library of Congress.


Plessy v. Ferguson: Separate But Equal Doctrine - HISTORY

African Americans turned to the courts to help protect their constitutional rights. But the courts challenged earlier civil rights legislation and handed down a series of decisions that permitted states to segregate people of color.

In the pivotal case of Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racially separate facilities, if equal, did not violate the Constitution. Segregation, the Court said, was not discrimination.

The 1896-97 Supreme Court

Plessy v. Ferguson

In 1890 a new Louisiana law required railroads to provide “equal but separate accommodations for the white, and colored, races.” Outraged, the black community in New Orleans decided to test the rule.


The Long Death of the 'Separate but Equal' Doctrine

O ne of the most infamous Supreme Court decisions in American history was handed down 120 years ago, on May 18, 1896: Plessy v. Ferguson. That means the number of years that the United States allowed the doctrine of “separate but equal” to stand is now equal to the number of years that have passed without it, as American railroads were formally integrated in 1956. Except that the story of racism on the rails is still being told.

The difficulty of pinning down a date to bookend that 1896 ruling illustrates one of the most pernicious aspects of the racial segregation system that Plessy enshrined in law: though the government was able to affirm that segregation was legal, they had a hard time taking it back.

As TIME would explain in a 1953 cover story about the “fading line” of segregation, the facts of Plessy were thus: “It arose on June 7, 1892, when Homer Adolph Plessy bought a ticket on the East Louisiana Railroad, from New Orleans to Covington, La. Plessy, seven-eighths white and one-eighth Negro, took a seat in the white coach on the segregated train. When he refused to move, he was taken off and jailed. The case reached the Supreme Court in 1896, and the court ruled that Louisiana’s law, calling for ‘equal but separate’ facilities on trains, was constitutional. The majority opinion held that Negroes were equal to whites ‘civilly and politically,’ but not ‘socially.'”

Though transportation had been segregated long before Plessy, the decision was the moment at which the doctrine gained the official seal of approval.

In 1954, with Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court finally declared what Americans could long have seen with their own eyes: that which was kept separate was inherently unequal. “Even if physical facilities are equal, said the court,there are intangible factors which prevent ‘separate’ from being ‘equal,'” TIME explained in coverage of the case.

Brown took on the specific question of segregation in public schools. It was not until later that the realm originally addressed in Plessy was integrated. In late 1955&mdashfollowing a landmark ruling about segregated buses&mdashthe Interstate Commerce Commission ruled that interstate rail and bus carriages had to be integrated, starting Jan. 10, 1956, as TIME reported:

From that day forth, Negroes who pay for the same interstate accommodation as whites must get the same accommodation as whites they must also be permitted to use the same railroad waiting rooms and washrooms as whites. Said the ICC: “The disadvantage to a traveler who is assigned accommodations or facilities so designated as to imply his inherent inferiority solely because of his race must be regarded under present conditions as unreasonable. Also, he is entitled to be free of annoyances, some petty and some substantial, which almost inevitably accompany segregation, even though the rail carriers . . . sincerely try to provide both races with equally convenient and comfortable cars and waiting rooms.”

However, as with so many of these cases, the ruling did not translate to immediate and peaceful integration. Rather, according to Raymond Arsenault’s history of the Freedom Riders, segregation on Southern railways persisted for at least five years after the ICC edict took effect. It wasn’t until 1961 that then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy told the ICC to start enforcing its own rule.


Post-Civil War Reconstruction

After the Civil War, efforts began in southern states and nationwide to pass laws that would protect the rights of African Americans. This was known as "Reconstruction." It was a turbulent time, where 4 million people who were previously enslaved were suddenly integrating into American society. Confederate states were reluctantly coming back into the fold, and it seemed as if the United States were going to be "united" once again.

After the Reconstruction Act was passed in 1867, African Americans were elected to government positions - including the United States Congress. The 14th Amendment followed, which broadened the Constitution's definition of citizenship and granted "equal protection of the laws" to former slaves. In 1870, Congress approved the 15th Amendment, which states that a person's right to vote cannot be denied based on race.

Some states even passed laws banning racial discrimination on public transport and other public facilities. However, a deal made behind closed doors of Congress in 1877 brought an end to those efforts, undoing many years of progress in the arena of civil rights.


A Brief History of the Evolution of the Case

Homer A. Plessy Day was established June 7, 2005, by the Crescent City Peace Alliance, former Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, the Louisiana House of Representatives, and the New Orleans City Council. On this special day, we remember Plessy, a shoemaker who was arrested on June 7, 1892, at the corner of Press and Royal streets in New Orleans. He was charged with violating the (1890) Separate Car Act of Louisiana, which mandated separate accommodations for black and white railroad passengers. But, most of all we remember the Citizens’ Committee whose members (including Plessy) resided in the historic Tremé community. Their purpose was to overturn the segregation laws that were being enacted across the South.

The committee chose a moment in history and a place in the city’s economic landscape (the Press Street Railroad Yards) that would most effectively draw attention to their cause. Every detail of Plessy’s case was strategically planned by the Committee. Attorneys Louis Martinet and Albion Tourgee timed the action to coincide with the National Republican Convention in Minneapolis, as a prod for the party of Lincoln to focus more on civil liberties in the South. In addition, the Press Street Wharf, which is located near the Press and Royal Street site, was the busiest wharf in the city of New Orleans. Any attempt to disrupt the order of business there would be sure to be taken seriously.

The decision to use civil disobedience to challenge Act 111 was part of a strategy intelligently crafted by the Citizens’ Committee. On November 18, 1892, Judge John Howard Ferguson ruled against Plessy. His decision was upheld by the Louisiana Supreme Court. Later, in 1895 Ferguson’s decision was appealed to the Supreme Court of United States as the landmark Plessy vs. Ferguson case of 1896. When that body upheld the earlier rulings on May 18, 1896, the separate-but-equal doctrine became the established law of Louisiana and the foundation for Jim Crow policies throughout the country. Although the Supreme Court ruled against Plessy, the Citizens’ Committee’s use of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection provision to challenge segregation marked the first post-reconstruction use of that strategy and it was eventually adopted as the basis for the Civil Rights movements of the 20th century.

Ten years after the experience of Plessy v. Ferguson, a group inspired by the case convened. Delegates from 14 states formed the Niagara Movement. That movement, in turn, led to the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (the NAACP), which played a central role in the fight for federal Civil Rights legislation in the 1950s and 1960s. Leading a team of NAACP lawyers, Thurgood Marshall (who eventually became the first black U.S. Supreme Court Justice) combined five cases and successfully used Plessy’s 14th Amendment arguments before the U. S. Supreme Court in the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision of 1954, which effectively overruled the separate-but-equal doctrine.

Rosa Parks, who defied the “back of the bus” restrictions against people of color on December 1, 1955, has rightfully been called “The Mother of the Civil Rights Movement.” She joined the Montgomery NAACP in 1943. Her historic refusal to sit in the back of a Montgomery, Alabama bus was foreshadowed 59 years before her time by a proud shoemaker from New Orleans. Homer Adolph Plessy, who, with the Citizens’ Committee, challenged the 1890 Separate Car Act of Louisiana on June 7, 1892. In doing so they laid the groundwork for much of the Civil Rights progress that we experience today.


Plessy v. Ferguson and the Legacy of “Separate but Equal” After 125 Years Virtual Conference

Join us for the Plessy v. Ferguson and the Legacy of “Separate but Equal” After 125 Years virtual conference on Tuesday, May 18 from 12:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. EST.

May 18 marks the 125th anniversary since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Plessy v. Ferguson case. In acknowledgment of the decision’s lasting impact, the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, Virginia Commonwealth University and the Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley are hosting a virtual conference offering a retrospective on possible connections between the Supreme Court’s approval of state-imposed racial segregation and ongoing racial disadvantages and inequities.

The conference seeks to further discussions started in the recently published journal, Plessy v. Ferguson and the Legacy of “Separate but Equal” After 125 Years, edited by renowned scholars Professors Susan Gooden, Samuel Myers Jr., and john a. powell. The journal was published by the Russell Sage Foundation in March 2021.

The conference will take place via Zoom. A link to join the conference will be sent to all registered attendees closer to May 18. The conference will take place in one continuous Zoom webinar.

Conference agenda

Opening: Setting the foundation for the day’s panels

  • Greetings and Acknowledgement of Sponsors – Dr. Samuel Myers, Jr.
  • Background and Context of the Volume

The legal history of Plessy v. Ferguson

  • The Law and Significance of Plessy – Dr. john a. powell
    • powell examines the legal history that precluded and followed the case of Plessy v. Ferguson, setting up the historical context and significance of the case. Here, powell shows the embeddedness of structural racism in the American legal system and the slow work done to untangle racism from the law.
    • Plessy v. Ferguson’s legacy reaches far beyond Jim Crow’s “separate but equal” doctrine to perpetuate state control of personal identity. The 1896 U.S. Supreme Court decision upheld white supremacy’s slave law power to say who’s who, epitomized in state power to declare some human beings not persons but mere property. It sanctioned government power to identify and categorize individuals and to direct their actions and interactions based on such identities and categories. In perpetuating unchecked state determination of individual identities, Plessy persists in its insidious denial of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms. To reestablish birthright personal autonomy over identity free of state subordination requires reforming U.S. law to recognize and accept the individuality of human diversity. Such a process requires abolishing state authority to arbitrarily assign personal identity by decree and recognize the basic personal autonomy of individuals to define, redefine, and express their individual identities.

    Impacts on education

    • Harlan’s Dissent: Citizenship, Education, and the Color-Conscious Constitution – Douglas S. Reed
      • In his dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson, Justice John Marshall Harlan wrote, “Our constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.” Racial conservatives have argued that Harlan’s dissent should invalidate policies that partially redress the historical injuries inflicted on African Americans. The author discusses his article which contends that the concept of colorblindness misstates Harlan’s central claim.
      • W.E.B. Du Bois asserted that black students are better served by attending predominantly black schools than hostile integrated schools in a context of racial discrimination. The conventional assumption is that black students benefit educationally by attending schools with more white peers, which have access to greater resources. However, the theory of the functionality of discrimination advances the idea that black students may face greater discrimination in school settings with numerous white peers as a result of a competitive process and white appropriation of preferred resources. Using the National Survey of Black Americans, the authors find evidence of a nonmonotonic relationship between high school racial composition and years of schooling completed, high school graduation, likelihood of being employed, and likelihood of owning a home.

      Dania V. Francis, William A. Darity, Jr.

      • The authors discuss their use of administrative data from three cohorts of North Carolina public high school students to examine the effects of within-school segregation on the propensity of academically eligible black high school students to take advanced math courses.

      Impacts on space/housing

      • Segregated Spaces and Separated Races: The Relationship Between State-Sanctioned Violence, Place, and Black Identity – Tia Sherèe Gaynor, Seong C. Kang, Brian N. Williams
        • The authors explore segregation and the social status of black people, focusing in particular on the ripple effects of Plessy v. Ferguson on policing in the United States. Specifically, they ask how the legacy of Plessy v. Ferguson has helped maintain state-sanctioned, racially based violence. They draw from Mapping Police Violence, which compiles data on the number of police-involved homicides in large police departments in the United States from 2013 to 2017. Using these data, they analyze the relationship between space and the number of deaths of black people caused by police.
        • In rejecting Plessy v. Ferguson’s “separate but equal” doctrine in Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court created a presumption that segregation equals discrimination. However, alongside this assertion, American space has become increasingly separate. A socio-legal analysis identifies three generations of spatial segregation in the United States and calls for recognizing the fourth generation—separate, therefore equal—in which minority communities require voluntary self-segregation to achieve equality.
        • Plessy v. Ferguson provided the foundation for a system of segregation and exclusion that adversely affected African Americans throughout the twentieth century. Segregation was perpetuated by federal policies. During the 1940s and 1950s, the federal government facilitated the construction of suburban communities with Veterans Administration– and Federal Housing Authority–insured mortgages. These agencies invented redlining and required lending institutions to insert racially restrictive covenants in deeds for properties they insured. In the 1950s and 1960s, the federal government facilitated the construction of the interstate highway system. The freeways were frequently constructed through African American neighborhoods, displacing the residents. Urban renewal programs caused the destruction of African American communities across the nation. This long and tragic history of structural racism continues to adversely affect the well-being of African American families.
        • Rarely do the public, community leaders, or policymakers engage the history of structural racialization. Despite this lack of public awareness, a large body of literature illustrates the importance of urban development history as a mechanism of upholding the philosophy of segregation upheld by Plessy v. Ferguson. The history of structural racialization in development is fundamental to understanding contemporary challenges such as segregation, concentrated poverty, and racial disparities. The following case study explores two Ohio community-based initiatives (in Cleveland and Columbus) that used historical analysis of racial discrimination in development practices as the focus of a community engagement process. Surveys, participant observations, and interviews document the outcomes, benefits, and impacts associated with engaging stakeholders using historical records of discrimination to inform contemporary policymaking.
        • This author explores how voter ID laws further the dismantling of voting rights and the promises of full political engagement for racial minorities, especially African Americans. The authors highlight the racial politics that inform the emergence of these laws, and the racial intent and impact these laws have in diluting minority voting access and therefore political power. It begins with a short historical overview of voting rights since the eradication of slavery, then offers background on the current legal climate in which voter ID laws are situated.

        Closing: What’s next? Where do we go from here?

        • A conversation with journal editors – Professors Susan Gooden, Samuel Myers Jr., and john a. powell

        Susan Gooden (Volume Co-Editor)

        Susan T. Gooden, Ph.D., is dean and professor of the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is an internationally recognized expert on social equity. Gooden is an elected fellow of the congressionally chartered National Academy of Public Administration and is past president of the American Society for Public Administration. She is Vice President of the Network of Associated Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) and will begin her presidential term in October 2021. Her books include Global Equity in Administration (2020, Routledge) Why Research Methods Matter (2018), Melvin and Leigh) Race and Social Equity: A Nervous Area of Government (2014, Routledge) and Cultural Competency for Public Administrators (2012, Routledge). Her research has been funded by several organizations including the Russell Sage Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation, the Smith Richardson Foundation, MDRC, and the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

        Samuel Myers, Jr. (Volume Co-Editor)

        Samuel L. Myers, Jr. is the Roy Wilkins Professor of Human Relations and Social Justice at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. He is the co-author of Race Neutrality: Rationalizing Remedies to Racial Inequality, Lexington Press (2018). He is now writing a new book for Russell Sage Foundation Press tentatively titled The Minnesota Paradox – Racial Inequality and Progressive Public Policy.

        john a. powell (Volume Co-Editor, Panel: The legal history of Plessy v. Ferguson)

        john a. powell is an internationally recognized expert in the areas of civil rights, civil liberties, structural racism, housing, poverty, and democracy. powell is the director of the Othering & Belonging Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, a research institute that brings together scholars, community advocates, communicators, and policymakers to identify and eliminate the barriers to an inclusive, just, and sustainable society and to create transformative change toward a more equitable world.

        Thomas J. Davis (Panel: The legal history of Plessy v. Ferguson)

        Thomas J. Davis, PhD, JD, is an historian, lawyer, and professor emeritus at Arizona State University, Tempe, where he taught US constitutional and legal history. An internationally recognized legal scholar, he is author of nine books, including Plessy v. Ferguson (2012), History of African Americans: Exploring Diverse Roots (2016), and Race Relations in America (2006).

        Douglas S. Reed (Panel: Impacts on education)

        Douglas S. Reed is a Professor of Government and Director of the MA Program in Educational Transformation at Georgetown University. He teaches and writes about education politics and policy-making, as well as civil rights. His interests include education reform, equality in education, and the nature of educational governance. He is the author, most recently, of Building the Federal Schoolhouse, published by Oxford University Press.

        Timothy M. Diette (Panel: Impacts on education)

        Tim Diette joined the Washington and Lee University Office of the President as the Senior Advisor to the President for Strategic Analysis in June of 2018. For the 2020-21 academic year, he will also serve as the acting director of the Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability. Prior to his current position, he served as the Associate Dean of the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics and as the acting head of the Economics Department. Professor Diette joined Washington and Lee University in 2004 as a visiting professor and as a tenure-track faculty member in 2006.

        Darrick Hamilton (Panel: Impacts on education)

        Darrick Hamilton is a university professor, the Henry Cohen Professor of Economics and Urban Policy, and the founding director of the Institute for the Study of Race, Stratification and Political Economy at The New School. Considered one of the nation’s foremost scholars, economists and public intellectuals, Hamilton’s accomplishments include recently being profiled in the New York Times, Mother Jones magazine and the Wall Street Journal and being featured in Politico Magazine’s 2017 50 Ideas Shaping American Politics and the People Behind Them issue. Also, he is a member of the Marguerite Casey Foundation in partnership with the Group Health Foundation’s inaugural class of Freedom Scholars.

        Arthur H. Goldsmith (Panel: Impacts on education)

        Professor Goldsmith joined the Williams School faculty in 1990 after teaching previously at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Connecticut in Storrs. In addition to teaching course on macroeconomics and on race he has also taught courses on Behavior Economics, the Bell Curve, and Economic Themes in Literature and Film. Many of the courses he leads incorporate service learning and virtually all of them are interdisciplinary oriented since they draw on insights from other disciplines to foster a deeper understanding of the topics being explored. A global perspective is also emphasized.

        William A. Darity, Jr. (Panel: Impacts on education)

        William A. (“Sandy”) Darity Jr. is the Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy, African and African American Studies, and Economics and the director of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University. He has served as chair of the Department of African and African American Studies and was the founding director of the Research Network on Racial and Ethnic Inequality at Duke. Previously he served as director of the Institute of African American Research, director of the Moore Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program, director of the Undergraduate Honors Program in economics, and director of Graduate Studies at the University of North Carolina. at Chapel Hill.

        Dania V. Francis (Panel: Impacts on education)

        Dr. Dania V. Francis is Assistant Professor of Economics at University of Massachusetts Boston. Her current research involves using experimental and quasi-experimental methods to identify structural causes of racial and socioeconomic academic achievement gaps.

        Tia Sherèe Gaynor (Panel: Impacts on space/housing)

        Tia Sherèe Gaynor, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science. Her research focuses on issues related to social (in)justice, cultural competency, and social equity within a U.S. and global context, particularly as it relates to underrepresented and marginalized populations. Specifically, her work explores intersectionality in public management and policy.

        Seong C. Kang (Panel: Impacts on space/housing)

        Dr. Kang received his Ph.D. in Public Administration and Policy with a concentration in public management from the University of Georgia. He is interested in how local governments utilize various service delivery arrangements to provide public services. His current research examines citizen participation in the delivery of public services through initiatives such as volunteering and coproduction and how this improves organizational performance and accountability.

        Brian N. Williams (Panel: Impacts on space/housing)

        Professor Williams' research centers on issues related to race, policing, and public governance. He explores how the experiences and perceptions of police officers and community residents affect their willingness to engage with each other as partners in the co-production of public safety and public order.

        Shai Stern (Panel: Impacts on space/housing)

        Shai Stern is an associate professor of law at the Bar Ilan University Law School. Dr. Stern received his Ph.D. from the Zvi Meitar Center for Advanced Legal Studies at Tel Aviv University and his LLB (cum laude) from Bar- Ilan University and was admitted to the Israeli Bar Association. Until 2011, he worked as a lawyer at S. Horowitz & Co. law firm, where he specialized in commercial litigation, dispute resolution, planning and construction, and administrative law.

        Leland Ware (Panel: Impacts on space/housing)

        Professor Leland Ware has been the Louis L. Redding Chair for the Study of Law and Public Policy at the University of Delaware since 2000. Before his present appointment, he was a professor at St. Louis University School of Law from 1987 to 2000. He was a visiting professor at Boston College Law School in 1992 and at the Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, in 1997. Professor Ware was University Counsel at Howard University from 1984 to 1987. For the five years prior to his position at Howard, he was a Trial Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, in Washington, D.C. He had previously practiced with a private firm in Atlanta, Georgia, and with the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Professor Ware's research focuses on various aspects of Civil Rights law. He has authored more than 100 publications consisting of academic journal articles, book chapters, essays, book reviews, editorials and other publications in academic journals and other publications.

        Jason Reece (Panel: Impacts on space/housing)

        Jason Reece is an assistant professor of city and regional planning at the Knowlton School and a faculty affiliate at The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity. His work broadly focuses on social equity and justice in the context of planning history, theory and practice. More specifically, his research seeks to understand the role of planning in fostering a built and social environment which supports a just city and healthy communities. At the Knowlton School Jason teaches courses in equity planning, community development, land use law, planning theory and planning history. He also teaches as a summer instructor in the College of Public Health Summer Population Health program and for the OSU College of Medicine’s Aspire program.

        Paru Shah (Panel: Impacts on space/housing)

        Paru Shah is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Her research and teaching focuses on race, ethnicity and politics, urban politics and public policy in an American context. Recent work focuses on the political emergence, ambitions, and paths to office for candidates of color and women candidates in local and state elections.

        Robert S. Smith (Panel: Impacts on space/housing)

        Dr. Robert S. Smith is the Harry G. John Professor of History and the Director of the Center for Urban Research, Teaching & Outreach at Marquette University. His research and teaching interests include African American history, civil rights history, and exploring the intersections of race and law. Dr. Smith is the author of Race, Labor & Civil Rights Griggs v. Duke Power and the Struggle for Equal Employment Opportunity.

        This conference is made possible through a collaboration by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, Virginia Commonwealth University and the Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley. Additional recognition of the Russell Sage Foundation and the Plessy and Ferguson Foundation.

        About the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

        Ranked No. 38 among 285 graduate schools of public affairs by U.S. News & World Report and No. 19 in Social Policy, the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University advances excellence in governance and promotes evidence-based public policy in Virginia and beyond. The school offers an array of graduate, post baccalaureate and doctoral programs in virtually every policy area including criminal justice, homeland security and emergency preparedness, public administration, public policy and administration, and urban and regional studies and planning. The Wilder School is also home to several robust centers that provide applied research in the areas of state and local government, social equity and leadership and a range of services to clients in state and local government, nonprofit organizations, businesses and the general public. Learn more at wilder.vcu.edu.

        About the Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley

        The Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley brings together researchers, organizers, stakeholders, communicators, and policymakers to identify and eliminate the barriers to an inclusive, just, and sustainable society in order to create transformative change. We are a diverse and vibrant hub generating work centered on realizing a world where all people belong, where belonging entails being respected at a level that includes the right to both contribute and make demands upon society and political and cultural institutions.

        About the Russell Sage Foundation

        The Russell Sage Foundation was established by Margaret Olivia Sage in 1907 for “the improvement of social and living conditions in the United States.” It dedicates itself to strengthening the methods, data, and theoretical core of the social sciences in order to better understand societal problems and develop informed responses. The foundation supports visiting scholars in residence and publishes books and a journal under its own imprint. It also funds researchers at other institutions and supports programs intended to develop new generations of social scientists.


        “Separate But Equal”: The 1896 Plessy vs. Ferguson Case

        Historical overviews of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s inevitably focus on certain well-known events: Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott the forced integration of Little Rock’s Central High School the desegregation drive in Birmingham in 1963 and other important episodes. This chapter will focus instead on the legal ramifications of the civil rights movement, which are less widely known but have proven perhaps just as significant.

        The landmark 1896 case Plessy v. Ferguson introduced into the American legal vernacular the famous “separate but equal” doctrine. According to that ruling, the Fourteenth Amendment’s requirement that the state extend to all citizens the equal protection of the laws did not require that whites and blacks be permitted to use the same facilities. As long as separate facilities for whites and blacks were equal, then the state would be in compliance with the demands of the Fourteenth Amendment.

        This was the judicial precedent that the Supreme Court had to reckon with when reaching its decision on school desegregation in 1954. The justices were obviously anxious to declare segregated schooling, which existed by law throughout the South, to be unconstitutional. But the Court could not simply argue that the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause prohibited segregated schools, since 1) the Court had ruled in Plessy that it did not, and 2) the same Congress that drafted and passed the Fourteenth Amendment had also approved segregated schooling in the District of Columbia. If anyone should know the intent of the amendment, it would be those who had voted on it. Another line of argument would have to be pursued.


        Implementation of the “separate but equal” doctrine gave constitutional sanction to laws designed to achieve racial segregation by means of separate and equal public facilities and services for African Americans and whites.

        In this milestone decision, the Supreme Court ruled that separating children in public schools on the basis of race was unconstitutional. It signaled the end of legalized racial segregation in the schools of the United States, overruling the “separate but equal” principle set forth in the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case.


        The Impact on the Civil Rights Movement

        History.com Editors. “Brown v. Board of Education.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, October 27, 2009. https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/brown-v-board-of-education-of-topeka.

        Attorney Thurgood Marshall celebrating the victory. He argued before the Supreme court to overturn the separate but equal doctrine.

        History.com Editors. “Brown v. Board of Education.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, October 27, 2009. https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/brown-v-board-of-education-of-topeka.

        The Supreme Court’s decision constitutionally permitted the segregation of African Americans from public restrooms, water fountains, buses and other forms of transportation, government buildings, movie theaters, the military, and public schools. This precedent lasted half a century.

        Plessy v. Ferguson influenced the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, an anti-segregation organization that worked to challenged segregation and Jim Crow laws through defending plaintiffs and filing lawsuits against discriminatory institutions.

        Influenced by the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling, the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case overturned the separate but equal doctrine by arguing a similar defense as Plessy’s lawyers that it violates the equal protection clause of the 14 th Amendment, as segregated public schools were not equal to white schools (1).

        By overturning the “separate but equal” doctrine, Civil Rights activists were able to use it as a precedent to overturn segregation laws in all areas of the public sphere (2).

        Klarman, Michael J. From Jim Crow to Civil Rights: The Supreme Court and the Struggle for Racial Equality. Oxford University Press, 2006.


        Plessy v Ferguson

        Plessy v. Ferguson was a landmark 1896 U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation under the “separate but equal” doctrine. The case stemmed from an 1892 incident in which African American train passenger Homer Plessy refused to sit in a car for blacks. Rejecting Plessy’s argument that his constitutional rights were violated, the Supreme Court ruled that a law that “implies merely a legal distinction” between whites and blacks was not unconstitutional. As a result, restrictive Jim Crow legislation and separate public accommodations based on race became commonplace.

        Plessy v. Ferguson: Background and Context:

        After the Compromise of 1877 led to the withdrawal of federal troops from the South, Democrats consolidated control of state legislatures throughout the region, effectively marking the end of Reconstruction.

        Southern blacks saw the promise of equality under the law embodied by the 13th Amendment, 14th Amendment and 15th Amendment to the Constitution receding quickly, and a return to disenfranchisement and other disadvantages as white supremacy reasserted itself across the South.

        As historian C. Vann Woodward pointed out in a 1964 article about Plessy v. Ferguson, white and black Southerners mixed relatively freely until the 1880s, when state legislatures passed the first laws requiring railroads to provide separate cars for “Negro” or “colored” passengers.

        Florida became the first state to mandate segregated railroad cars in 1887, followed in quick succession by Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana and other states by the end of the century.

        Black Resistance to Segregation:

        As Southern blacks witnessed with horror the dawn of the Jim Crow era, members of the black community in New Orleans decided to mount a resistance.

        At the heart of the case that became Plessy v. Ferguson was a law passed in Louisiana in 1890 “providing for separate railway carriages for the white and colored races.” It stipulated that all passenger railways had to provide these separate cars, which should be equal in facilities.

        Homer Adolph Plessy, who agreed to be the plaintiff in the case aimed at testing the law’s constitutionality, was of mixed race he described himself as “seven-eighths Caucasian and one-eighth African blood.”

        On June 7, 1892, Plessy bought a ticket on a train from New Orleans bound for Covington, Louisiana, and took a vacant seat in a whites-only car. After refusing to leave the car at the conductor’s insistence, he was arrested and jailed.

        Convicted by a New Orleans court of violating the 1890 law, Plessy filed a petition against the presiding judge, Hon. John H. Ferguson, claiming that the law violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

        Supreme Court Ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson:

        Over the next few years, segregation and black disenfranchisement picked up pace in the South, and was more than tolerated by the North. Congress defeated a bill that would have given federal protection to elections in 1892, and nullified a number of Reconstruction laws on the books.

        Then, on May 18, 1896, the Supreme Court delivered its verdict in Plessy v. Ferguson. In declaring separate-but-equal facilities constitutional on intrastate railroads, the Court ruled that the protections of 14th Amendment applied only to political and civil rights (like voting and jury service), not “social rights” (sitting in the railroad car of your choice).

        In its ruling, the Court denied that segregated railroad cars for blacks were necessarily inferior. “We consider the underlying fallacy of [Plessy’s] argument,” Justice Henry Brown wrote, “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.”

        John Marshall Harlan’s Dissent:

        Alone in the minority was Justice John Marshall Harlan, a former slaveholder from Kentucky. Harlan had opposed emancipation and civil rights for freed slaves during the Reconstruction era – but changed his position due to his outrage over the actions of white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan.

        Harlan argued in his dissent that segregation ran counter to the constitutional principle of equality under the law: “The arbitrary separation of citizens on the basis of race while they are on a public highway is a badge of servitude wholly inconsistent with the civil freedom and the equality before the law established by the Constitution,” he wrote. “It cannot be justified upon any legal grounds.”

        Plessy v. Ferguson Significance:

        The Plessy v. Ferguson verdict enshrined the doctrine of “separate but equal” as a constitutional justification for segregation, ensuring the survival of the Jim Crow South for the next half-century.

        Intrastate railroads were among many segregated public facilities the verdict sanctioned others included buses, hotels, theaters, swimming pools and schools. By the time of the 1899 case Cummings v. Board of Education, even Harlan appeared to agree that segregated public schools did not violate the Constitution.

        It would not be until the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, at the dawn of the civil rights movement, that the majority of the Supreme Court would essentially concur with Harlan’s opinion in Plessy v. Ferguson.

        Writing the majority opinion in that 1954 case, Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote that “the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place” in public education, calling segregated schools “inherently unequal,” and declaring that the plaintiffs in the Brown case were being “deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.”

        C. Vann Woodward, “Plessy v. Ferguson: The Birth of Jim Crow,” American Heritage (Volume 15, Issue 3: April 1964).

        Landmark Cases: Plessy v. Ferguson, PBS: The Supreme Court – The First Hundred Years.

        Louis Menand, “Brown v. Board of Education and the Limits of Law,” The New Yorker (February 12, 2001).


        Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896

        ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF LOUISIANA.

        540*540 Mr. A.W. Tourgee and Mr. S.F. Phillips for plaintiff in error. Mr. F.D. McKenney was on Mr. Phillips's brief.

        Mr. James C. Walker filed a brief for plaintiff in error. Mr. Alexander Porter Morse for defendant in error. Mr. M.J. Cunningham, Attorney General of the State of Louisiana, and Mr. Lional Adams were on his brief.

        MR. JUSTICE BROWN, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.

        This case turns upon the constitutionality of an act of the General Assembly of the State of Louisiana, passed in 1890, providing for separate railway carriages for the white and colored races. Acts 1890, No. 111, p. 152.

        The first section of the statute enacts "that all railway companies carrying passengers in their coaches in this State, shall provide equal but separate accommodations for the white, and colored races, by providing two or more passenger coaches for each passenger train, or by dividing the passenger coaches by a partition so as to secure separate accommodations: Provided, That this section shall not be construed to apply to street railroads. No person or persons, shall be admitted to occupy seats in coaches, other than, the ones, assigned, to them on account of the race they belong to."

        By the second section it was enacted "that the officers of such passenger trains shall have power and are hereby required 541*541 to assign each passenger to the coach or compartment used for the race to which such passenger belongs any passenger insisting on going into a coach or compartment to which by race he does not belong, shall be liable to a fine of twenty-five dollars, or in lieu thereof to imprisonment for a period of not more than twenty days in the parish prison, and any officer of any railroad insisting on assigning a passenger to a coach or compartment other than the one set aside for the race to which said passenger belongs, shall be liable to a fine of twenty-five dollars, or in lieu thereof to imprisonment for a period of not more than twenty days in the parish prison and should any passenger refuse to occupy the coach or compartment to which he or she is assigned by the officer of such railway, said officer shall have power to refuse to carry such passenger on his train, and for such refusal neither he nor the railway company which he represents shall be liable for damages in any of the courts of this State."

        The third section provides penalties for the refusal or neglect of the officers, directors, conductors and employés of railway companies to comply with the act, with a proviso that "nothing in this act shall be construed as applying to nurses attending children of the otherrace." The fourth section is immaterial.

        The information filed in the criminal District Court charged in substance that Plessy, being a passenger between two stations within the State of Louisiana, was assigned by officers of the company to the coach used for the race to which he belonged, but he insisted upon going into a coach used by the race to which he did not belong. Neither in the information nor plea was his particular race or color averred.

        The petition for the writ of prohibition averred that petitioner was seven eighths Caucasian and one eighth African blood that the mixture of colored blood was not discernible in him, and that he was entitled to every right, privilege and immunity secured to citizens of the United States of the white race and that, upon such theory, he took possession of a vacant seat in a coach where passengers of the white race were accommodated, and was ordered by the conductor to vacate 542*542 said coach and take a seat in another assigned to persons of the colored race, and having refused to comply with such demand he was forcibly ejected with the aid of a police officer, and imprisoned in the parish jail to answer a charge of having violated the above act.

        The constitutionality of this act is attacked upon the ground that it conflicts both with the Thirteenth Amendment of the Constitution, abolishing slavery, and the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits certain restrictive legislation on the part of the States.

        1. That it does not conflict with the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, is too clear for argument. Slavery implies involuntary servitude &mdash a state of bondage the ownership of mankind as a chattel, or at least the control of the labor and services of one man for the benefit of another, and the absence of a legal right to the disposal of his own person, property and services. This amendment was said in the Slaughter-house cases, 16 Wall. 36, to have been intended primarily to abolish slavery, as it had been previously known in this country, and that it equally forbade Mexican peonage or the Chinese coolie trade, when they amounted to slavery or involuntary servitude, and that the use of the word "servitude" was intended to prohibit the use of all forms of involuntary slavery, of whatever class or name. It was intimated, however, in that case that this amendment was regarded by the statesmen of that day as insufficient to protect the colored race from certain laws which had been enacted in the Southern States, imposing upon the colored race onerous disabilities and burdens, and curtailing their rights in the pursuit of life, liberty and property to such an extent that their freedom was of little value and that the Fourteenth Amendment was devised to meet this exigency.

        So, too, in the Civil Rights cases, 109 U.S. 3, 24, it was said that the act of a mere individual, the owner of an inn, a public conveyance or place of amusement, refusing accommodations to colored people, cannot be justly regarded as imposing any badge of slavery or servitude upon the applicant, but 543*543 only as involving an ordinary civil injury, properly cognizable by the laws of the State, and presumably subject to redress by those laws until the contrary appears. "It would be running the slavery argument into the ground," said Mr. Justice Bradley, "to make it apply to every act of discrimination which a person may see fit to make as to the guests he will entertain, or as to the people he will take into his coach or cab or car, or admit to his concert or theatre, or deal with in other matters of intercourse or business."

        A statute which implies merely a legal distinction between the white and colored races &mdash a distinction which is founded in the color of the two races, and which must always exist so long as white men are distinguished from the other race by color &mdash has no tendency to destroy the legal equality of the two races, or reestablish a state of involuntary servitude. Indeed, we do not understand that the Thirteenth Amendment is strenuously relied upon by the plaintiff in error in this connection.

        2. By the Fourteenth Amendment, all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are made citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside and the States are forbidden from making or enforcing any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States, or shall deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law, or deny to any person within their jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

        The proper construction of this amendment was first called to the attention of this court in the Slaughter-house cases, 16 Wall. 36, which involved, however, not a question of race, but one of exclusive privileges. The case did not call for any expression of opinion as to the exact rights it was intended to secure to the colored race, but it was said generally that its main purpose was to establish the citizenship of the negro to give definitions of citizenship of the United States and of the States, and to protect from the hostile legislation of the States the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States, as distinguished from those of citizens of the States.

        544*544 The object of the amendment was undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two races before the law, but 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, and have been generally, if not universally, recognized as within the competency of the state legislatures in the exercise of their police power. The most common instance of this is connected with the establishment of separate schools for white and colored children, which has been held to be a valid exercise of the legislative power even by courts of States where the political rights of the colored race have been longest and most earnestly enforced.

        One of the earliest of these cases is that of Roberts v. City of Boston, 5 Cush. 198, in which the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts held that the general school committee of Boston had power to make provision for the instruction of colored children in separate schools established exclusively for them, and to prohibit their attendance upon the other schools. "The great principle," said Chief Justice Shaw, p. 206, "advanced by the learned and eloquent advocate for the plaintiff," (Mr. Charles Sumner,) "is, that by the constitution and laws of Massachusetts, all persons without distinction of age or sex, birth or color, origin or condition, are equal before the law. . But, when this great principle comes to be applied to the actual and various conditions of persons in society, it will not warrant the assertion, that men and women are legally clothed with the same civil and political powers, and that children and adults are legally to have the same functions and be subject to the same treatment but only that the rights of all, as they are settled and regulated by law, are equally entitled to the paternal consideration and protection of the law for their maintenance and security." It was held that the powers of the committee extended to the establishment 545*545 of separate schools for children of different ages, sexes and colors, and that they might also establish special schools for poor and neglected children, who have become too old to attend the primary school, and yet have not acquired the rudiments of learning, to enable them to enter the ordinary schools. Similar laws have been enacted by Congress under its general power of legislation over the District of Columbia, Rev. Stat. D.C. §§ 281, 282, 283, 310, 319, as well as by the legislatures of many of the States, and have been generally, if not uniformly, sustained by the courts. State v. McCann, 21 Ohio St. 198 Lehew v. Brummell, 15 S.W. Rep. 765 Ward v. Flood, 48 California, 36 Bertonneau v. School Directors, 3 Woods, 177 People v.Gallagher, 93 N.Y. 438 Cory v. Carter, 48 Indiana, 327 Dawson v. Lee, 83 Kentucky, 49.

        Laws forbidding the intermarriage of the two races may be said in a technical sense to interfere with the freedom of contract, and yet have been universally recognized as within the police power of the State. State v. Gibson, 36 Indiana, 389.

        The distinction between laws interfering with the political equality of the negro and those requiring the separation of the two races in schools, theatres and railway carriages has been frequently drawn by this court. Thus in Strauder v. West Virginia, 100 U.S. 303, it was held that a law of West Virginia limiting to white male persons, 21 years of age and citizens of the State, the right to sit upon juries, was a discrimination which implied a legal inferiority in civil society, which lessened the security of the right of the colored race, and was a step toward reducing them to a condition of servility. Indeed, the right of a colored man that, in the selection of jurors to pass upon his life, liberty and property, there shall be no exclusion of his race, and no discrimination against them because of color, has been asserted in a number of cases. Virginia v. Rives, 100 U.S. 313 Neal v. Delaware, 103 U.S. 370 Bush v. Kentucky, 107 U.S. 110 Gibson v. Mississippi, 162 U.S. 565. So, where the laws of a particular locality or the charter of a particular railway corporation has provided that no person shall be excluded from the cars on account of 546*546 color, we have held that this meant that persons of color should travel in the same car as white ones, and that the enactment was not satisfied by the company's providing cars assigned exclusively to people of color, though they were as good as those which they assigned exclusively to white persons. Railroad Company v. Brown, 17 Wall. 445.

        Upon the other hand, where a statute of Louisiana required those engaged in the transportation of passengers among the States to give to all persons travelling within that State, upon vessels employed in that business, equal rights and privileges in all parts of the vessel, without distinction on account of race or color, and subjected to an action for damages the owner of such a vessel, who excluded colored passengers on account of their color from the cabin set aside by him for the use of whites, it was held to be so far as it applied to interstate commerce, unconstitutional and void. Hall v. De Cuir, 95 U.S. 485. The court in this case, however, expressly disclaimed that it had anything whatever to do with the statute as a regulation of internal commerce, or affecting anything else than commerce among the States.

        In the Civil Rights case, 109 U.S. 3, it was held that an act of Congress, entitling all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States to the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of inns, public conveyances, on land or water, theatres and other places of public amusement, and made applicable to citizens of every race and color, regardless of any previous condition of servitude, was unconstitutional and void, upon the ground that the Fourteenth Amendment was prohibitory upon the States only, and the legislation authorized to be adopted by Congress for enforcing it was not direct legislation on matters respecting which the States were prohibited from making or enforcing certain laws, or doing certain acts, but was corrective legislation, such as might be necessary or proper for counteracting and redressing the effect of such laws or acts. In delivering the opinion of the court Mr. Justice Bradley observed that the Fourteenth Amendment "does not invest Congress with power to legislate upon subjects that are within the 547*547 domain of state legislation but to provide modes of relief against state legislation, or state action, of the kind referred to. It does not authorize Congress to create a code of municipal law for the regulation of private rights but to provide modes of redress against the operation of state laws, and the action of state officers, executive or judicial, when these are subversive of the fundamental rights specified in the amendment. Positive rights and privileges are undoubtedly secured by the Fourteenth Amendment but they are secured by way of prohibition against state laws and state proceedings affecting those rights and privileges, and by power given to Congress to legislate for the purpose of carrying such prohibition into effect and such legislation must necessarily be predicated upon such supposed state laws or state proceedings, and be directed to the correction of their operation and effect."

        Much nearer, and, indeed, almost directly in point, is the case of the Louisville, New Orleans &c. Railway v. Mississippi, 133 U.S. 587, wherein the railway company was indicted for a violation of a statute of Mississippi, enacting that all railroads carrying passengers should provide equal, but separate, accommodations for the white and colored races, by providing two or more passenger cars for each passenger train, or by dividing the passenger cars by a partition, so as to secure separate accommodations. The case was presented in a different aspect from the one under consideration, inasmuch as it was an indictment against the railway company for failing to provide the separate accommodations, but the question considered was the constitutionality of the law. In that case, the Supreme Court of Mississippi, 66 Mississippi, 662, had held that the statute applied solely to commerce within the State, and, that being the construction of the state statute by its highest court, was accepted as conclusive. "If it be a matter," said the court, p. 591, "respecting commerce wholly within a State, and not interfering with commerce between the States, then, obviously, there is no violation of the commerce clause of the Federal Constitution. . No question arises under this section, as to the power of the State to separate in different compartments interstate passengers, 548*548 or affect, in any manner, the privileges and rights of such passengers. All that we can consider is, whether the State has the power to require that railroad trains within her limits shall have separate accommodations for the two races that affecting only commerce within the State is no invasion of the power given to Congress by the commerce clause."

        A like course of reasoning applies to the case under consideration, since the Supreme Court of Louisiana in the case of the State ex rel. Abbott v. Hicks, Judge, et al., 44 La. Ann. 770, held that the statute in question did not apply to interstate passengers, but was confined in its application to passengers travelling exclusively within the borders of the State. The case was decided largely upon the authority of Railway Co. v. State, 66 Mississippi, 662, and affirmed by this court in 133 U.S. 587. In the present case no question of interference with interstate commerce can possibly arise, since the East Louisiana Railway appears to have been purely a local line, with both its termini within the State of Louisiana. Similar statutes for the separation of the two races upon public conveyances were held to be constitutional in West Chester &c. Railroad v. Miles, 55 Penn. St. 209 Day v. Owen, 5 Michigan, 520 Chicago &c. Railway v. Williams, 55 Illinois, 185 Chesapeake &c. Railroad v. Wells, 85 Tennessee, 613 Memphis &c. Railroad v. Benson, 85 Tennessee, 627 The Sue, 22 Fed. Rep. 843 Logwood v. Memphis &c. Railroad, 23 Fed. Rep. 318 McGuinn v. Forbes, 37 Fed. Rep. 639 People v. King, 18 N.E. Rep. 245 Houck v. South Pac. Railway, 38 Fed. Rep. 226 Heard v. Georgia Railroad Co., 3 Int. Com. Com'n, 111 S.C., 1 Ibid. 428.

        While we think the enforced separation of the races, as applied to the internal commerce of the State, neither abridges the privileges or immunities of the colored man, deprives him of his property without due process of law, nor denies him the equal protection of the laws, within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment, we are not prepared to say that the conductor, in assigning passengers to the coaches according to their race, does not act at his peril, or that the provision of the second section of the act, that denies to the passenger compensation 549*549 in damages for a refusal to receive him into the coach in which he properly belongs, is a valid exercise of the legislative power. Indeed, we understand it to be conceded by the State's attorney, that such part of the act as exempts from liability the railway company and its officers is unconstitutional. The power to assign to a particular coach obviously implies the power to determine to which race the passenger belongs, as well as the power to determine who, under the laws of the particular State, is to be deemed a white, and who a colored person. This question, though indicated in the brief of the plaintiff in error, does not properly arise upon the record in this case, since the only issue made is as to the unconstitutionality of the act, so far as it requires the railway to provide separate accommodations, and the conductor to assign passengers according to their race.

        It is claimed by the plaintiff in error that, in any mixed community, the reputation of belonging to the dominant race, in this instance the white race, is property, in the same sense that a right of action, or of inheritance, is property. Conceding this to be so, for the purposes of this case, we are unable to see how this statute deprives him of, or in any way affects his right to, such property. If he be a white man and assigned to a colored coach, he may have his action for damages against the company for being deprived of his so called property. Upon the other hand, if he be a colored man and be so assigned, he has been deprived of no property, since he is not lawfully entitled to the reputation of being a white man.

        In this connection, it is also suggested by the learned counsel for the plaintiff in error that the same argument that will justify the state legislature in requiring railways to provide separate accommodations for the two races will also authorize them to require separate cars to be provided for people whose hair is of a certain color, or who are aliens, or who belong to certain nationalities, or to enact laws requiring colored people to walk upon one side of the street, and white people upon the other, or requiring white men's houses to be painted white, and colored men's black, or their vehicles or business signs to be of different colors, upon the theory that one side 550*550 of the street is as good as the other, or that a house or vehicle of one color is as good as one of another color. The reply to all this is that every exercise of the police power must be reasonable, and extend only to such laws as are enacted in good faith for the promotion for the public good, and not for the annoyance or oppression of a particular class. Thus in Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356, it was held by this court that a municipal ordinance of the city of San Francisco, to regulate the carrying on of public laundries within the limits of the municipality, violated the provisions of the Constitution of the United States, if it conferred upon the municipal authorities arbitrary power, at their own will, and without regard to discretion, in the legal sense of the term, to give or withhold consent as to persons or places, without regard to the competency of the persons applying, or the propriety of the places selected for the carrying on of the business. It was held to be a covert attempt on the part of the municipality to make an arbitrary and unjust discrimination against the Chinese race. While this was the case of a municipal ordinance, a like principle has been held to apply to acts of a state legislature passed in the exercise of the police power. Railroad Company v. Husen, 95 U.S. 465 Louisville & Nashville Railroad v. Kentucky, 161 U.S. 677, and cases cited on p. 700 Daggett v. Hudson, 43 Ohio St. 548 Capen v. Foster, 12 Pick. 485 State ex rel. Wood v. Baker, 38 Wisconsin, 71 Monroe v. Collins, 17 Ohio St. 665 Hulseman v. Rems, 41 Penn. St. 396 Orman v. Riley, 15 California, 48.

        So far, then, as a conflict with the Fourteenth Amendment is concerned, the case reduces itself to the question whether the statute of Louisiana is a reasonable regulation, and with respect to this there must necessarily be a large discretion on the part of the legislature. In determining the question of reasonableness it is at liberty to act with reference to the established usages, customs and traditions of the people, and with a view to the promotion of their comfort, and the preservation of the public peace and good order. Gauged by this standard, we cannot say that a law which authorizes or even requires the separation of the two races in public conveyances 551*551 is unreasonable, or more obnoxious to the Fourteenth Amendment than the acts of Congress requiring separate schools for colored children in the District of Columbia, the constitutionality of which does not seem to have been questioned, or the corresponding acts of state legislatures.

        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 necessarily assumes that if, as has been more than once the case, and is not unlikely to be so again, the colored race should become the dominant power in the state legislature, and should enact a law in precisely similar terms, it would thereby relegate the white race to an inferior position. We imagine that the white race, at least, would not acquiesce in this assumption. The argument also assumes that social prejudices may be overcome by legislation, and that equal rights cannot be secured to the negro 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. As was said by the Court of Appeals of New York in People v. Gallagher, 93 N.Y.438, 448, "this end can neither be accomplished nor promoted by laws which conflict with the general sentiment of the community upon whom they are designed to operate. When the government, therefore, has secured to each of its citizens equal rights before the law and equal opportunities for improvement and progress, it has accomplished the end for which it was organized and performed all of the functions respecting social advantages with which it is endowed." Legislation is powerless to eradicate racial instincts or to abolish distinctions based upon physical differences, and the attempt to do so can only result in accentuating the difficulties of the present situation. If the civil and political rights of both races be equal one cannot be inferior to the other civilly 552*552 or politically. If one race be inferior to the other socially, the Constitution of the United States cannot put them upon the same plane.

        It is true that the question of the proportion of colored blood necessary to constitute a colored person, as distinguished from a white person, is one upon which there is a difference of opinion in the different States, some holding that any visible admixture of black blood stamps the person as belonging to the colored race, (State v. Chavers, 5 Jones, [N.C.] 1, p. 11) others that it depends upon the preponderance of blood, (Gray v. State, 4 Ohio, 354 Monroe v. Collins, 17 Ohio St. 665) and still others that the predominance of white blood must only be in the proportion of three fourths. (People v. Dean, 14 Michigan, 406 Jones v. Commonwealth, 80 Virginia, 538.) But these are questions to be determined under the laws of each State and are not properly put in issue in this case. Under the allegations of his petition it may undoubtedly become a question of importance whether, under the laws of Louisiana, the petitioner belongs to the white or colored race.

        The judgment of the court below is, therefore,

        MR. JUSTICE HARLAN dissenting.

        By the Louisiana statute, the validity of which is here involved, all railway companies (other than street railroad companies) carrying passengers in that State are required to have separate but equal accommodations for white and colored persons, "by providing two or more passenger coaches for each passenger train, or by dividing the passenger coaches by a partition so as to secure separate accommodations." Under this statute, no colored person is permitted to occupy a seat in a coach assigned to white persons nor any white person, to occupy a seat in a coach assigned to colored persons. The managers of the railroad are not allowed to exercise any discretion in the premises, but are required to assign each passenger to some coach or compartment set apart for the exclusive use of his race. If a passenger insists upon going into a coach or compartment not set apart for persons of his race, 553*553 he is subject to be fined, or to be imprisoned in the parish jail. Penalties are prescribed for the refusal or neglect of the officers, directors, conductors and employés of railroad companies to comply with the provisions of the act.

        Only "nurses attending children of the other race" are excepted from the operation of the statute. No exception is made of colored attendants travelling with adults. A white man is not permitted to have his colored servant with him in the same coach, even if his condition of health requires the constant, personal assistance of such servant. If a colored maid insists upon riding in the same coach with a white woman whom she has been employed to serve, and who may need her personal attention while travelling, she is subject to be fined or imprisoned for such an exhibition of zeal in the discharge of duty.

        While there may be in Louisiana persons of different races who are not citizens of the United States, the words in the act, "white and colored races," necessarily include all citizens of the United States of both races residing in that State. So that we have before us a state enactment that compels, under penalties, the separation of the two races in railroad passenger coaches, and makes it a crime for a citizen of either race to enter a coach that has been assigned to citizens of the other race.

        Thus the State regulates the use of a public highway by citizens of the United States solely upon the basis of race.

        However apparent the injustice of such legislation may be, we have only to consider whether it is consistent with the Constitution of the United States.

        That a railroad is a public highway, and that the corporation which owns or operates it is in the exercise of public functions, is not, at this day, to be disputed. Mr. Justice Nelson, speaking for this court in New Jersey Steam Navigation Co. v. Merchants' Bank, 6 How. 344, 382, said that a common carrier was in the exercise "of a sort of public office, and has public duties to perform, from which he should not be permitted to exonerate himself without the assent of the parties concerned." Mr. Justice Strong, delivering the judgment of 554*554 this court in Olcott v. The Supervisors, 16 Wall. 678, 694, said: "That railroads, though constructed by private corporations and owned by them, are public highways, has been the doctrine of nearly all the courts ever since such conveniences for passage and transportation have had any existence. Very early the question arose whether a State's right of eminent domain could be exercised by a private corporation created for the purpose of constructing a railroad. Clearly it could not, unless taking land for such a purpose by such an agency is taking land for public use. The right of eminent domain nowhere justifies taking property for a private use. Yet it is a doctrine universally accepted that a state legislature may authorize a private corporation to take land for the construction of such a road, making compensation to the owner. What else does this doctrine mean if not that building a railroad, though it be built by a private corporation, is an act done for a public use?" So, in Township of Pine Grove v. Talcott, 19 Wall. 666, 676: "Though the corporation [a railroad company] was private, its work was public, as much so as if it were to be constructed by the State." So, in Inhabitants of Worcester v. Western Railroad Corporation, 4 Met. 564: "The establishment of that great thoroughfare is regarded as a public work, established by public authority, intended for the public use and benefit, the use of which is secured to the whole community, and constitutes, therefore, like a canal, turnpike or highway, a public easement." It is true that the real and personal property, necessary to the establishment and management of the railroad, is vested in the corporation but it is in trust for the public."

        In respect of civil rights, common to all citizens, the Constitution of the United States does not, I think, permit any public authority to know the race of those entitled to be protected in the enjoyment of such rights. Every true man has pride of race, and under appropriate circumstances when the rights of others, his equals before the law, are not to be affected, it is his privilege to express such pride and to take such action based upon it as to him seems proper. But I deny that any legislative body or judicial tribunal may have regard to the 555*555 race of citizens when the civil rights of those citizens are involved. Indeed, such legislation, as that here in question, is inconsistent not only with that equality of rights which pertains to citizenship, National and State, but with the personal liberty enjoyed by every one within the United States.

        The Thirteenth Amendment does not permit the withholding or the deprivation of any right necessarily inhering in freedom. It not only struck down the institution of slavery as previously existing in the United States, but it prevents the imposition of any burdens or disabilities that constitute badges of slavery or servitude. It decreed universal civil freedom in this country. This court has so adjudged. But that amendment having been found inadequate to the protection of the rights of those who had been in slavery, it was followed by the Fourteenth Amendment, which added greatly to the dignity and glory of American citizenship, and to the security of personal liberty, by declaring that "all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside," and that "no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." These two amendments, if enforced according to their true intent and meaning, will protect all the civil rights that pertain to freedom and citizenship. Finally, and to the end that no citizen should be denied, on account of his race, the privilege of participating in the political control of his country, it was declared by the Fifteenth Amendment that "the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude."

        These notable additions to the fundamental law were welcomed by the friends of liberty throughout the world. They removed the race line from our governmental systems. They had, as this court has said, a common purpose, namely, to secure "to a race recently emancipated, a race that through 556*556 many generations have been held in slavery, all the civil rights that the superior race enjoy." They declared, in legal effect, this court has further said, "that the law in the States shall be the same for the black as for the white that all persons, whether colored or white, shall stand equal before the laws of the States, and, in regard to the colored race, for whose protection the amendment was primarily designed, that no discrimination shall be made against them by law because of their color." We also said: "The words of the amendment, it is true, are prohibitory, but they contain a necessary implication of a positive immunity, or right, most valuable to the colored race &mdash the right to exemption from unfriendly legislation against them distinctively as colored &mdash exemption from legal discriminations, implying inferiority in civil society, lessening the security of their enjoyment of the rights which others enjoy, and discriminations which are steps towards reducing them to the condition of a subject race." It was, consequently, adjudged that a state law that excluded citizens of the colored race from juries, because of their race and however well qualified in other respects to discharge the duties of jurymen, was repugnant to the Fourteenth Amendment. Strauder v. West Virginia, 100 U.S. 303, 306, 307 Virginia v. Rives, 100 U.S. 313 Ex parte Virginia, 100 U.S. 339 Neal v. Delaware, 103 U.S. 370, 386 Bush v. Kentucky, 107 U.S. 110, 116. At the present term, referring to the previous adjudications, this court declared that "underlying all of those decisions is the principle that the Constitution of the United States, in its present form, forbids, so far as civil and political rights are concerned, discrimination by the General Government or the States against any citizen because of his race. All citizens are equal before the law." Gibson v. Mississippi, 162 U.S. 565.

        The decisions referred to show the scope of the recent amendments of the Constitution. They also show that it is not within the power of a State to prohibit colored citizens, because of their race, from participating as jurors in the administration of justice.

        It was said in argument that the statute of Louisiana does 557*557 not discriminate against either race, but prescribes a rule applicable alike to white and colored citizens. But this argument does not meet the difficulty. Every one knows that the statute in question had its origin in the purpose, not so much to exclude white persons from railroad cars occupied by blacks, as to exclude colored people from coaches occupied by or assigned to white persons. Railroad corporations of Louisiana did not make discrimination among whites in the matter of accommodation for travellers. The thing to accomplish was, under the guise of giving equal accommodation for whites and blacks, to compel the latter to keep to themselves while travelling in railroad passenger coaches. No one would be so wanting in candor as to assert the contrary. The fundamental objection, therefore, to the statute is that it interferes with the personal freedom of citizens. "Personal liberty," it has been well said, "consists in the power of locomotion, of changing situation, or removing one's person to whatsoever places one's own inclination may direct, without imprisonment or restraint, unless by due course of law." 1 Bl. Com. *134. If a white man and a black man choose to occupy the same public conveyance on a public highway, it is their right to do so, and no government, proceeding alone on grounds of race, can prevent it without infringing the personal liberty of each.

        It is one thing for railroad carriers to furnish, or to be required by law to furnish, equal accommodations for all whom they are under a legal duty to carry. It is quite another thing for government to forbid citizens of the white and black races from travelling in the same public conveyance, and to punish officers of railroad companies for permitting persons of the two races to occupy the same passenger coach. If a State can prescribe, as a rule of civil conduct, that whites and blacks shall not travel as passengers in the same railroad coach, why may it not so regulate the use of the streets of its cities and towns as to compel white citizens to keep on one side of a street and black citizens to keep on the other? Why may it not, upon like grounds, punish whites and blacks who ride together in street cars or in open vehicles on a public road 558*558 or street? Why may it not require sheriffs to assign whites to one side of a court-room and blacks to the other? And why may it not also prohibit the commingling of the two races in the galleries of legislative halls or in public assemblages convened for the consideration of the political questions of the day? Further, if this statute of Louisiana is consistent with the personal liberty of citizens, why may not the State require the separation in railroad coaches of native and naturalized citizens of the United States, or of Protestants and Roman Catholics?

        The answer given at the argument to these questions was that regulations of the kind they suggest would be unreasonable, and could not, therefore, stand before the law. Is it meant that the determination of questions of legislative power depends upon the inquiry whether the statute whose validity is questioned is, in the judgment of the courts, a reasonable one, taking all the circumstances into consideration? A statute may be unreasonable merely because a sound public policy forbade its enactment. But I do not understand that the courts have anything to do with the policy or expediency of legislation. A statute may be valid, and yet, upon grounds of public policy, may well be characterized as unreasonable. Mr. Sedgwick correctly states the rule when he says that the legislative intention being clearly ascertained, "the courts have no other duty to perform than to execute the legislative will, without any regard to their views as to the wisdom or justice of the particular enactment." Stat. & Const. Constr. 324. There is a dangerous tendency in these latter days to enlarge the functions of the courts, by means of judicial interference with the will of the people as expressed by the legislature. Our institutions have the distinguishing characteristic that the three departments of government are coordinate and separate. Each must keep within the limits defined by the Constitution. And the courts best discharge their duty by executing the will of the law-making power, constitutionally expressed, leaving the results of legislation to be dealt with by the people through their representatives. Statutes must always have a reasonable construction. Sometimes they are to be construed strictly sometimes, liberally, in order to carry out the legislative 559*559 will. But however construed, the intent of the legislature is to be respected, if the particular statute in question is valid, although the courts, looking at the public interests, may conceive the statute to be both unreasonable and impolitic. If the power exists to enact a statute, that ends the matter so far as the courts are concerned. The adjudged cases in which statutes have been held to be void, because unreasonable, are those in which the means employed by the legislature were not at all germane to the end to which the legislature was competent.

        The white race deems itself to be the dominant race in this country. And so it is, in prestige, in achievements, in education, in wealth and in power. So, I doubt not, it will continue to be for all time, if it remains true to its great heritage and holds fast to the principles of constitutional liberty. But in view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. The law regards man as man, and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved. It is, therefore, to be regretted that this high tribunal, the final expositor of the fundamental law of the land, has reached the conclusion that it is competent for a State to regulate the enjoyment by citizens of their civil rights solely upon the basis of race.

        In my opinion, the judgment this day rendered will, in time, prove to be quite as pernicious as the decision made by this tribunal in the Dred Scott case. It was adjudged in that case that the descendants of Africans who were imported into this country and sold as slaves were not included nor intended to be included under the word "citizens" in the Constitution, and could not claim any of the rights and privileges which that instrument provided for and secured to citizens of the United States that at the time of the adoption of the Constitution they were "considered as a subordinate and inferior class of beings, who had been subjugated by the dominant 560*560 race, and, whether emancipated or not, yet remained subject to their authority, and had no rights or privileges but such as those who held the power and the government might choose to grant them." 19 How. 393, 404. The recent amendments of the Constitution, it was supposed, had eradicated these principles from our institutions. But it seems that we have yet, in some of the States, a dominant race &mdash a superior class of citizens, which assumes to regulate the enjoyment of civil rights, common to all citizens, upon the basis of race. The present decision, it may well be apprehended, will not only stimulate aggressions, more or less brutal and irritating, upon the admitted rights of colored citizens, but will encourage the belief that it is possible, by means of state enactments, to defeat the beneficent purposes which the people of the United States had in view when they adopted the recent amendments of the Constitution, by one of which the blacks of this country were made citizens of the United States and of the States in which they respectively reside, and whose privileges and immunities, as citizens, the States are forbidden to abridge. Sixty millions of whites are in no danger from the presence here of eight millions of blacks. The destinies of the two races, in this country, are indissolubly linked together, and the interests of both require that the common government of all shall not permit the seeds of race hate to be planted under the sanction of law. What can more certainly arouse race hate, what more certainly create and perpetuate a feeling of distrust between these races, than state enactments, which, in fact, proceed on the ground that colored citizens are so inferior and degraded that they cannot be allowed to sit in public coaches occupied by white citizens? That, as all will admit, is the real meaning of such legislation as was enacted in Louisiana.

        The sure guarantee of the peace and security of each race is the clear, distinct, unconditional recognition by our governments, National and State, of every right that inheres in civil freedom, and of the equality before the law of all citizens of the United States without regard to race. State enactments, regulating the enjoyment of civil rights, upon the basis of race, and cunningly devised to defeat legitimate results of the 561*561 war, under the pretence of recognizing equality of rights, can have no other result than to render permanent peace impossible, and to keep alive a conflict of races, the continuance of which must do harm to all concerned. This question is not met by the suggestion that social equality cannot exist between the white and black races in this country. That argument, if it can be properly regarded as one, is scarcely worthy of consideration for social equality no more exists between two races when travelling in a passenger coach or a public highway than when members of the same races sit by each other in a street car or in the jury box, or stand or sit with each other in a political assembly, or when they use in common the streets of a city or town, or when they are in the same room for the purpose of having their names placed on the registry of voters, or when they approach the ballot-box in order to exercise the high privilege of voting.

        There is a race so different from our own that we do not permit those belonging to it to become citizens of the United States. Persons belonging to it are, with few exceptions, absolutely excluded from our country. I allude to the Chinese race. But by the statute in question, a Chinaman can ride in the same passenger coach with white citizens of the United States, while citizens of the black race in Louisiana, many of whom, perhaps, risked their lives for the preservation of the Union, who are entitled, by law, to participate in the political control of the State and nation, who are not excluded, by law or by reason of their race, from public stations of any kind, and who have all the legal rights that belong to white citizens, are yet declared to be criminals, liable to imprisonment, if they ride in a public coach occupied by citizens of the white race. It is scarcely just to say that a colored citizen should not object to occupying a public coach assigned to his own race. He does not object, nor, perhaps, would he object to separate coaches for his race, if his rights under the law were recognized. But he objects, and ought never to cease objecting to the proposition, that citizens of the white and black races can be adjudged criminals because they sit, or claim the right to sit, in the same public coach on a public highway.

        562*562 The arbitrary separation of citizens, on the basis of race, while they are on a public highway, is a badge of servitude wholly inconsistent with the civil freedom and the equality before the law established by the Constitution. It cannot be justified upon any legal grounds.

        If evils will result from the commingling of the two races upon public highways established for the benefit of all, they will be infinitely less than those that will surely come from state legislation regulating the enjoyment of civil rights upon the basis of race. We boast of the freedom enjoyed by our people above all other peoples. But it is difficult to reconcile that boast with a state of the law which, practically, puts the brand of servitude and degradation upon a large class of our fellow citizens, our equals before the law. The thin disguise of "equal" accommodations for passengers in railroad coaches will not mislead any one, nor atone for the wrong this day done.

        The result of the whole matter is, that while this court has frequently adjudged, and at the present term has recognized the doctrine, that a State cannot, consistently with the Constitution of the United States, prevent white and black citizens, having the required qualifications for jury service, from sitting in the same jury box, it is now solemnly held that a State may prohibit white and black citizens from sitting in the same passenger coach on a public highway, or may require that they be separated by a "partition," when in the same passenger coach. May it not now be reasonably expected that astute men of the dominant race, who affect to be disturbed at the possibility that the integrity of the white race may be corrupted, or that its supremacy will be imperilled, by contact on public highways with black people, will endeavor to procure statutes requiring white and black jurors to be separated in the jury box by a "partition," and that, upon retiring from the court room to consult as to their verdict, such partition, if it be a moveable one, shall be taken to their consultation room, and set up in such way as to prevent black jurors from coming too close to their brother jurors of the white race. If the "partition" used in the court room happens to be stationary, provision could be made for screens with openings through 563*563 which jurors of the two races could confer as to their verdict without coming into personal contact with each other. I cannot see but that, according to the principles this day announced, such state legislation, although conceived in hostility to, and enacted for the purpose of humiliating citizens of the United States of a particular race, would be held to be consistent with the Constitution.

        I do not deem it necessary to review the decisions of state courts to which reference was made in argument. Some, and the most important, of them are wholly inapplicable, because rendered prior to the adoption of the last amendments of the Constitution, when colored people had very few rights which the dominant race felt obliged to respect. Others were made at a time when public opinion, in many localities, was dominated by the institution of slavery when it would not have been safe to do justice to the black man and when, so far as the rights of blacks were concerned, race prejudice was, practically, the supreme law of the land. Those decisions cannot be guides in the era introduced by the recent amendments of the supreme law, which established universal civil freedom, gave citizenship to all born or naturalized in the United States and residing here, obliterated the race line from our systems of governments, National and State, and placed our free institutions upon the broad and sure foundation of the equality of all men before the law.

        I am of opinion that the statute of Louisiana is inconsistent with the personal liberty of citizens, white and black, in that State, and hostile to both the spirit and letter of the Constitution of the United States. If laws of like character should be enacted in the several States of the Union, the effect would be in the highest degree mischievous. Slavery, as an institution tolerated by law would, it is true, have disappeared from our country, but there would remain a power in the States, by sinister legislation, to interfere with the full enjoyment of the blessings of freedom to regulate civil rights, common to all citizens, upon the basis of race and to place in a condition of legal inferiority a large body of American citizens, now constituting a part of the political community called the 564*564 People of the United States, for whom, and by whom through representatives, our government is administered. Such a system is inconsistent with the guarantee given by the Constitution to each State of a republican form of government, and may be stricken down by Congressional action, or by the courts in the discharge of their solemn duty to maintain the supreme law of the land, anything in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

        For the reasons stated, I am constrained to withhold my assent from the opinion and judgment of the majority.

        MR. JUSTICE BREWER did not hear the argument or participate in the decision of this case.


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