Plessy v. Ferguson
|Plessy v. Ferguson|
|Court||Supreme Court of the United States|
|Citation||163 U.S. 537 (1896)|
|Date decided||May 18, 1896|
|Appealed from||Louisiana Supreme Court|
|Brown v. Board of Education (Brown I)|
|Sweatt v. Painter|
|majority||written by Henry B. Brown|
joined by Fuller, Field, Gray, Shiras, White, Peckham
|dissent||written by John Marshall Harlan|
The law does not imply the inferiority of either race. The only proper restraint on the exercise of state police power is that it be reasonable and intended for the promotion of the general good. The state legislature may properly have concluded that the law would preserve the public peace and good order.It certainly is no more obnoxious to the 14th Amendment than laws requiring separate schools, which are universally accepted. Legislation cannot overcome social prejudices; the attempt to do so can only result in accentuating difficulties. The Constitution can act to equate civil and political rights of the two races, but cannot affect social standing.
Dissent (Harlan): No legislature or court may properly regard the race of citizens where civil rights are involved. Every citizen, regardless of color, has a right to occupy the public transportation of his choice; governmental infringement of that right is unconstitutional. Our Constitution is color-blind and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. Any evils resulting form commingling of the races are less than those resulting from curtailment of civil rights upon the basis of race.
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