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Katzenbach v. McClung

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

    Brief Fact Summary. Ollie’s barbeque (Ollie’s) in Alabama refused to serve Negroes.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Congressional power to regulate commerce can reach seemingly local activities if there is a connection to national commerce.


    Facts. Ollie’s refused to serve Negroes. The restaurant was not close to a highway, served mostly locals, and did not advertise out of state. However, 46% of its food was purchased from a supplier who bought the food outside of the state.

    Issue. Can Ollie’s discriminate against Negroes in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because it is a local restaurant that is not located near a highway and does not advertise out of state?

    Held. No, Ollie’s cannot discriminate against Negroes. Even though Ollie’s was primarily a local restaurant and its food supply purchases didn’t really affect commerce, there is a lot of discrimination in the country at this time. Ollie’s is perpetuating this discrimination along with similar establishments in the country. In the aggregate, this conduct could have a harmful affect on interstate commerce. Furthermore, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applied to establishments when a substantial portion of their food supplies moved in commerce.

    Discussion. When there is a rational relation between the legislative objective of protecting commerce and the means chosen to do so, Congress may exercise its commerce power.


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