Civil Rights Act of 1875

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Civil Rights Act of 1875
Great Seal of the United States
Long titleAn act to protect all citizens in their civil and legal rights.
Acronyms (colloquial)CRA 1875
NicknamesEnforcement Act, Force Act, and Sumner Civil Rights Bill
Enacted bythe 43rd United States Congress
Citations
Statutes at Large18 Stat. 335-337
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the Senate as S. 1 by Sen. Charles Sumner (R-MA) on May 13, 1870[1]
  • Committee consideration by Senate Judiciary
  • Passed the House on February 4, 1875 (162–99)
  • Passed the Senate on February 27, 1875 (38–26)
  • Signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1875
SCOTUS cases
The Civil Rights Cases (1883)
 
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Civil Rights Act of 1875
Great Seal of the United States
Long titleAn act to protect all citizens in their civil and legal rights.
Acronyms (colloquial)CRA 1875
NicknamesEnforcement Act, Force Act, and Sumner Civil Rights Bill
Enacted bythe 43rd United States Congress
Citations
Statutes at Large18 Stat. 335-337
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the Senate as S. 1 by Sen. Charles Sumner (R-MA) on May 13, 1870[1]
  • Committee consideration by Senate Judiciary
  • Passed the House on February 4, 1875 (162–99)
  • Passed the Senate on February 27, 1875 (38–26)
  • Signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1875
SCOTUS cases
The Civil Rights Cases (1883)

The Civil Rights Act of 1875 (18 Stat. 335–337),[2] sometimes called Enforcement Act or Force Act, was a United States federal law enacted during the Reconstruction Era that guaranteed African Americans equal treatment in public accommodations, public transportation, and prohibited exclusion from jury service. The Supreme Court decided the act was unconstitutional in 1883.

History of Act[edit]

Legislative History[edit]

The drafting of the bill was performed early in 1870 by Senator Charles Sumner, a dominant Radical Republican in the Senate, with the assistance of John Mercer Langston, a prominent African American who established the law department at Howard University.[3] The bill was proposed by Senator Sumner and co-sponsored by Representative Benjamin F. Butler, both Republicans from Massachusetts, in the 43rd Congress of the United States in 1870. The act was finally passed by Congress in February 1875 and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1875.[4]

Constitutional Challenge[edit]

The Supreme Court of the United States in a nearly unanimous decision declared the act unconstitutional in the Civil Rights Cases (1883) with Justice John Marshall Harlan providing the lone dissent. The Court held the Equal Protection Clause within the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits discrimination by the state, but it does not give the federal government the power to prohibit discrimination by private individuals.[5] The Court also held that the Thirteenth Amendment was meant to eliminate "the badge of slavery," but not to prohibit racial discrimination in public accommodations. The Civil Rights Act of 1875 was the last civil rights bill to be signed into law in the United States until the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

Legacy of Law[edit]

The Civil Rights Act of 1875 is also notable for being part of the major pieces of legislation passed by Congress after the American Civil War. Those pieces of legislation include the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the four Reconstruction Acts of 1867 and 1868, the three Enforcement Acts of 1870 and 1871, and the three Constitutional Amendments adopted between 1865 and 1870.[6]

Provisions contained in the Civil Rights Act of 1875 were later reenacted during the Civil Rights Movement in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968 relying upon the Commerce Clause contained in Article One of the Constitution of the United States.

See also[edit]

Racial inequality in the United States

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Books[edit]

Journals[edit]

External links[edit]

Congressional Records[edit]

Other[edit]