Plessy V Ferguson Analysis

1365 words 6 pages
Danielle Trefz
12 April 2011
Plessy v. Ferguson

In 1892, Homer Plessy, a man of 1/8th African descent, bought a first class ticket and boarded a train traveling within Louisiana. Upon discovery of his mixed heritage, the conductor ordered him to move to the designated colored car. He was arrested when he refused to move; a violation of The Separate Car Act which required separate but equal accommodations for African Americans and Whites on railroads. Thus began the fight against the idea of separate but equal. Plessy was the perfect man for this social experiment because he was so light skinned he could have passed as white. This the entire operation was choreographed and each person involved had his role in bringing
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In a 7-1 decision, the supreme court of the United States decided the Louisiana Separate Cars Act in no way violated either amendment. With regards to the 13th Amendment, Justice Brown cited the Slaughterhouse decision in saying this law is in no way imposing involuntary servitude. “A statute which implies merely a legal distinction between the white and colored races-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-has no tendency to destroy the legal equality of the two races, or re-establish a state of involuntary servitude[7].” For the 14th Amendment, the justices decided the law did not violate the Equal Protection Clause. Justice Brown acknowledged that the purpose of this amendment was to ensure the absolute equality of the two races. He decided that the Separate Car Act does not imply any inferiority of either race but simply recognized the biological difference between the races[8]. He also cited the Civil Rights Cases saying, the 14th Amendment “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, when these are subversive of the amendment[9].” According to this distinction, blacks and whites were politically equal


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