Plessy v. Ferguson 1896
Explain how the Supreme Court justified the practice of segregating railroad passengers in Louisiana by race. • The majority opinion of the Supreme Court claimed that the Fourteenth Amendment aimed to establish the equality of the races, but was not intended to abolish distinctions based on color or to enforce social equality. Furthermore, they stated the Louisiana law was ureasonable because states could legally segregate the races in the exercise of their police powers.
What is the meaning of the separate-but-equal principle? • The separate-but-equal principle means segregation is legal as long as equal facilities are provided for each race.
On what grounds did Justice Harlan criticize the majority’s ruling? • Justice Harlan dissented from the majority opinion on the grounds that segregation based on race was inconsistent with the freedoms and equality established by the Constitution.
Why do you think Plessy based his appeal in part on the Thirteenth Amendment? • Plessy based his appeal in part on the Thirteenth Amendment because it banned “involuntary servitude,” and segregation of railroad cars was a form of such servitude.
What do you think was the effect of the Plessy decision on the nation, especially on the southern states? • The Plessy decision affirmed the legality of segregation practices in the southern states. Although the Court’s decision required equality of public facilities, the southern states made no effort to carry out this requirement.