Rollback of Reconstruction: Court Cases
Here are some of the legal decisions that undermined Reconstruction and made possible the return of white supremacy:
1873: The Slaughter-House Cases - in a 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment did NOT place the rights of citizens under federal protection and denied that the national government could interfere with a state's "right" to FAIL to protect civil rights of citizens. This judgment rolled the clock back on post Civil War federal/state relations by reviving the concept of dual citizenship developed in the Dred Scott decision. It reduced the "privileges and immunities" of national citizenship to such limited rights as the right to petition the federal government for redress of grievances and to have protection on the high seas. The states were made responsible for all other "privileges and immunities" including the right to be protected from mob violence when exercising Constitutional rights. If a state chose not to protect its citizens, that was its business.
1876: US v. Cruikshank the US Supreme Court by 9-0 ruled on behalf of 96 members of a white mob who had massacred 60 black members of a posse who were guarding a courthouse in
1878: Hall v. DuCuir the US Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution's Commerce Clause (Article 1, Section 8) prevented the states from prohibiting segregation on interstate railroads.
1883: Civil Rights Cases the Supreme Court, with one dissenting vote, declared the Civil Rights Act of 1875 unconstitutional. The decision asserted that Blacks must no longer "be the special favorite of the laws." The dissent was written by Justice John Marshall Harlan, who argued that private racial discrimination was a badge of servitude which violated the Thirteenth Amendment.
1886: Santa Clara Co. v. Southern Pacific Railroad the Supreme Court declared that a corporation was a "person" within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. Between 1889 and 1918, of the nearly 800 Fourteenth Amendment cases brought before the courts, only 14 involved the rights and liberties of individuals. The rest concerned the "freedom" of corporations.
1896: Plessy v.
In this period, the Supreme Court also ruled unanimously that citizenship did not give people the privilege of voting, that much of the civil rights legislation passed by the Reconstruction Congress was unconstitutional, and that a