Hall v. Decuir 95 U.S. 485 (1877)

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HALL v. DECUIR 95 U.S. 485 (1877)

In 1870 the operator of a steamboat regularly traveling between New Orleans, Louisiana, and Vicksburg, Mississippi, refused a black woman accommodation in the cabin reserved for whites. He thereby violated a Louisiana statute, adopted during the period of military reconstruction, which prohibited racial discrimination by common carriers operating within the state. Speaking for the Court, Chief Justice morrison r. waite sought to avoid the "great inconvenience and unnecessary hardship" which might arise if all states bordering the Mississippi River were to enact divergent and conflicting laws. Waite stressed the importance of uniform regulations and struck down the state act as a "direct burden upon interstate commerce " in violation of Article I, section 8. Nearly seventy years later, in morgan v. virginia (1946), the Supreme Court struck down a law requiring racial segregation on buses, on a similar commerce ground. Neither opinion discussed the equal protection clause.

David Gordon

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Hall v. Decuir 95 U.S. 485 (1877)

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