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Katzenbach v. McClung, Sr. and McClung, Jr

Citation. 379 U.S. 294, 85 S. Ct. 377, 13 L. Ed. 2d 290 (1964)
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Brief Fact Summary.

Ollie’s Barbecue, a family-run business in Alabama did not serve blacks in the restaurant, which was in violation of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (the Act).

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Congress has the ability to require desegregation of restaurants under the Commerce Clause.


Ollie’s Barbecue served barbecued meats and homemade pies from its location in Birmingham, Alabama. Before and after passage of the Act, the restaurant had only served black patrons on a carry-out basis. Approximately 50% of its food was purchased from a local supplier who procured it from out of state. Because of the local nature of its operations, the Appellees, Ollie McClung Jr. and Sr. (Appellees), argues that Congress has overstepped its powers under the Commerce Clause.


May Congress regulate racial discrimination by locally owned and operated restaurants?


Yes. Appeals court ruling reversed and remanded. Many of the issues in the case had been answered in Heart of Atlanta Motel, 379 U.S. 241 (1964). The largest remaining question was whether the Appellees’ establishment serves interstate travelers or offers food that a substantial portion of which has moved in interstate commerce. Because Appellees admitted the latter query was true, the Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) ruled that Congress had authority to regulate the restaurant under the Commerce Clause.


Katzenbach v. McClung was decided on the same day as Heart of Atlanta Motel and represented the desegregation efforts by the Supreme Court. Again, it is notable that the Supreme Court ruled that Congress’ authority extended from the Commerce Clause.

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