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Civil Rights Cases

Citation. 109 U.S. 3 (1883)
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Brief Fact Summary.

The Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) declared the Civil Rights Act of 1875 (the Act) invalid because Congress did not have the constitutional power to make such a law.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Where a law steps into local jurisprudence and lays down rules for the conduct of individuals in society towards each other, without referring in any manner to any supposed action of the state or its authorities, it exceeds Congress’ scope of power because the wrongful act of an individual, unsupported by any such authority, is simply a private wrong, or a crime of that individual.


Section one of the Act provided: “[A]ll persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of inns, public conveyances on land or water, theaters and places of other public amusement

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