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The Constitution on Plessy Vs Ferguson: Details and Political Cartoons

Updated on December 19, 2015

Racial Discrimination in the 1800's

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The Supreme Court Case (Plessy v. Ferguson)

Events leading up to the case:

· The southern states began enacting Jim Crow laws, which segregated public facilities.

· The Supreme Court invalidated most of the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which was designed to protect blacks from acts of discrimination.

Louisiana enacted a law that called for separate railroad cars for blacks and whites. Homer A. Plessy, who was "almost" white sat in a car for whites and was arrested for refusing to move.

Each Side of The Issue

PLESSY: Argued that the East Louisiana Railroad had denied him his rights under the 13thand 14th amendments.

FERGUSON: Said that Louisiana had a right to regulate their Railroad companies, as long as it was within their state.

Justice Henry Brown
Justice Henry Brown

The Ruling of the Court

Justice Henry Brown upheld state racial segregation. The justices decided on the concept of “separate but equal”, which meant that as long as the segregated facilities were equal, they were constitutional. They believed that Louisiana had in no way violated the 13th and 14thamendments of the Constitution and that the separation was only a matter of public policy. Brown stated that the 14th amendment in the United States Constitution established equality for the races before the law, but that, “in the nature of things” it could not abolish differences based on color. The overall message was that segregation was not considered discrimination.

Plessy v. Ferguson Political Cartoon


My Opinion

Had I been Justice Henry Brown I would have declared this case unconstitutional. The 14th amendment of the Constitution states that “…no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” If you went and told a citizen of the United States, that he was not allowed to sit in a certain place because he didn’t look “white” enough, that would be “abridging the privileges or immunities…” This case was important because it was the first time that racial segregation was protected by federal law.

(Until it would later be repealed by Brown vs The Board of education.)

Background on Homer Plessy

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  • Zac828 profile image


    9 years ago from England

    It's so sad that our history has all of this discrimination and sadder that it is still going on in one form or another. But it is great that you share this in such a way that the message comes home. Very imaginative, really good hub.


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