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Plessy Vs Ferguson, 1896

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documents in English
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law case
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5 pages
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  1. Historical and legal context
  2. The case itself and the judicial procedure
    1. The case
    2. The procedure of appeal
    3. The procedure before the Louisiana Supreme Court
    4. The procedure before the Federal Supreme Court
  3. The legal arguments of the Supreme Court and the establishment of a real doctrine
    1. The Louisiana Law does infringe neither the 13th nor the 14th amendment: strict scrutiny interpretation
    2. Leads to the implementation of the separate but equal doctrine: the legal basis and the influence
  4. The limits of the decision and its consequences in term of judicial practice
    1. A verdict which institutionalizes an already existing practice
    2. Judicial consequences and legal critics to the decision

Slavery was 'politically' abolished during the Civil War in 1863 by the 'Emancipation Proclamation' of President Lincoln, who used his formal powers in order to deprave the south of its first source of income. This was rather a pragmatic declaration than a real political decision. Slavery was then 'constitutionally' abolished by the 13th Amendment of 1865. Finally, the 14th and15th Amendments of 1868 and 1870 respectively established citizenship on 'jus solis', and no more limited franchise to White people. Nevertheless, the Democrats who were in favor of slavery and White supremacy, restricted the blacks rights in the South, advocating racial and legal distinctions and separation between the Blacks and the Whites.

[...] The Supreme Court of 1896 took the precedent into account by making much of states rights, saying on line 13-14 recognized as within the competency of the state legislatures in the exercise of their police power The Slaughter House Cases Supreme Court decision of 1873 consists in an interpretation of the 14th amendment. The Court ruled that when states limit civil rights, it refused to pronounce itself on it. The Supreme Court of 1896 also took this precedent into account, saying on line 22-23 as a conflict with the 14th amendment is concerned, the case reduces itself to the question whether the statute of Louisiana is a reasonable regulation Considering these two precedent, the Supreme Court did not want to give a ruling that could have looked as a total change in its policy and in the same way a complete change for the public opinion. [...]


[...] Plessy was not depraved from such legal protection by the Louisiana act, he was only asked to sit in a different coach than where whites seat. The Supreme Court rules that if Mr. Plessy considers that such separation is an infringement to the 14th amendment because it creates a racial distinction, he is wrong. The 14th amendment does not forbid racial and social distinctions, as once again it only meant to enforce the absolute equality of the races before the law but on the other hand it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon colour as the Supreme Court says so on line 8-9. [...]


[...] The Supreme Court totally relies on social practice, and on states' power to act and enforce state legislation. It highlights states' independence and rights, through a real ?rightist? legacy. B. Judicial consequences and legal critics to the decision The real problem showed by the case is that this ?enforced separation? l.34 makes Black people feel inferior, and stamp themselves with badge of inferiority? l.35. And it is not the rule's fault if they feel like that. It is the Black people's interpretation of such legislation, and it is not this legislation purpose. [...]

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