How did the Supreme Court show support for racist beliefs during the era following reconstruction? Explain.?

How did the Supreme Court show support for racist beliefs during the era following reconstruction? Explain.

Your question is interesting and should be addressed, and yet such analysis should best occur in the context of what went before. Namely that, subsequent to the war, specific acts of the federal government (inclusive of court decisions) functionally altered the Constitution sans the amendment process. Specifically, the use of the 14th Amendment to apply the first 8 amendments to the States when they were expressly meant as define acts, exclusionary, singularly to the federal government. And this, not legally, not constitutionally, but only due to ‘right of conquest’ as justified in Texas v. White [1869]. This is the only way that reconstruction could be considered legal.

That said. . . . .

Reconstruction existed from about 1867 to 1876, so, the cases you allude to, if they exist, must be post this period. It was post 1876 that the legal (reconstruction based) structure imposed upon the South began to disintegrate. Certainly the 13th Amendment was not challenged but for the most part the intent of the 14th and 15th Amendments were at least minimized, and to some defeated, with respect to the Negro.

To a significant degree this change was politically based. Post 1876 the Congress of the United States began to follow a policy (unstated) of noninterference in Southern internal affairs. Since the Congress (to a large extent) acts as controlled and the control is by political party and in that time such controlling party was Republican. With the end of the war the Republican party viewed its future strength as based in the agrarian community and therefore the South was viewed as necessary to that future. By the end of Reconstruction the Republican Party had changed its view of its future to one of being tied to the interests of big business of the Northeast and in this context things such as tariffs and monetary policies became of high interest while reconstruction faded to non-importance. As the controlling federal party this also changed the policies of the Congress as well as the perspective of the rest of the federal government inclusive of the court.

What is considered as the first of the Court’s decisions in this new path was the case of United States v. Cruikshank [1876]. Here the court decided that ordinary private rights were not under federal protection except as against State interference. Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite opined, “ . . . (14th amendment) adds nothing to the rights of one citizen as against another. It simply furnishes a federal guaranty against any encroachment by the States upon the fundamental rights which belong to every citizen as a member of society. . . “

The 1883 the Civil Rights Cases the court declared void the Civil Rights Acts of 1875. This law, the last serious effort of the Radicals to establish civil equality for Negroes, had provided that all persons, regardless of race, were entitled to “. . . the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of inns, public conveyances on land or water, theatres and other places of public amusement. . . . “ Justice Bradley in his opinion pointed out that the 14th Amendment was “ . . . . prohibitory on the States,” but not upon private individuals. The Amendment thus clearly prohibited invasion by State action of certain private rights, but Bradley continued “ . . . Individual invasion of individual rights is not the subject-matter of the amendment. . . “

In effect this opinion served notice that the federal government could not lawfully protect the Negro against the discrimination which private individuals might choose to exercise against him. Was this a change from the Reconstruction period? Certainly. Could it be considered as a lessening of protection for the Negro relative to the Reconstruction period? Certainly.

However, it should be kept in mind that relative to the period from ratification to the initiation of the war, it is an increasing of federal intervention into the affairs of the States. That is, the Bill of Rights was singularly applied to the federal government and not to the States until the application of the 14th Amendment in 1868.

Post Author: mark

1 thought on “How did the Supreme Court show support for racist beliefs during the era following reconstruction? Explain.?

    Randy

    (February 7, 2010 - 9:42 am)

    Your question is interesting and should be addressed, and yet such analysis should best occur in the context of what went before. Namely that, subsequent to the war, specific acts of the federal government (inclusive of court decisions) functionally altered the Constitution sans the amendment process. Specifically, the use of the 14th Amendment to apply the first 8 amendments to the States when they were expressly meant as define acts, exclusionary, singularly to the federal government. And this, not legally, not constitutionally, but only due to ‘right of conquest’ as justified in Texas v. White [1869]. This is the only way that reconstruction could be considered legal.

    That said. . . . .

    Reconstruction existed from about 1867 to 1876, so, the cases you allude to, if they exist, must be post this period. It was post 1876 that the legal (reconstruction based) structure imposed upon the South began to disintegrate. Certainly the 13th Amendment was not challenged but for the most part the intent of the 14th and 15th Amendments were at least minimized, and to some defeated, with respect to the Negro.

    To a significant degree this change was politically based. Post 1876 the Congress of the United States began to follow a policy (unstated) of noninterference in Southern internal affairs. Since the Congress (to a large extent) acts as controlled and the control is by political party and in that time such controlling party was Republican. With the end of the war the Republican party viewed its future strength as based in the agrarian community and therefore the South was viewed as necessary to that future. By the end of Reconstruction the Republican Party had changed its view of its future to one of being tied to the interests of big business of the Northeast and in this context things such as tariffs and monetary policies became of high interest while reconstruction faded to non-importance. As the controlling federal party this also changed the policies of the Congress as well as the perspective of the rest of the federal government inclusive of the court.

    What is considered as the first of the Court’s decisions in this new path was the case of United States v. Cruikshank [1876]. Here the court decided that ordinary private rights were not under federal protection except as against State interference. Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite opined, “ . . . (14th amendment) adds nothing to the rights of one citizen as against another. It simply furnishes a federal guaranty against any encroachment by the States upon the fundamental rights which belong to every citizen as a member of society. . . “

    The 1883 the Civil Rights Cases the court declared void the Civil Rights Acts of 1875. This law, the last serious effort of the Radicals to establish civil equality for Negroes, had provided that all persons, regardless of race, were entitled to “. . . the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of inns, public conveyances on land or water, theatres and other places of public amusement. . . . “ Justice Bradley in his opinion pointed out that the 14th Amendment was “ . . . . prohibitory on the States,” but not upon private individuals. The Amendment thus clearly prohibited invasion by State action of certain private rights, but Bradley continued “ . . . Individual invasion of individual rights is not the subject-matter of the amendment. . . “

    In effect this opinion served notice that the federal government could not lawfully protect the Negro against the discrimination which private individuals might choose to exercise against him. Was this a change from the Reconstruction period? Certainly. Could it be considered as a lessening of protection for the Negro relative to the Reconstruction period? Certainly.

    However, it should be kept in mind that relative to the period from ratification to the initiation of the war, it is an increasing of federal intervention into the affairs of the States. That is, the Bill of Rights was singularly applied to the federal government and not to the States until the application of the 14th Amendment in 1868.
    References :

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