Plessy v. Ferguson

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Plessy v. Ferguson 163 U.S. 537 (1896) was a United States Supreme Court case that ruled segregation was legal, as long as equal facilities were provided for both races. The decision was handed down by a vote of 7 to 1 with the majority opinion written by Justice Henry Billings Brown and the minority opinion written by Justice John Marshall Harlan. In 1954, Brown v. Board of Education overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling.

The State of Louisiana passed a law saying that whites and blacks had to ride in different cars on trains, but required that the trains be "equal." Homer Plessy, who was one-eighth black (meaning that one of his eight great-grandparents was black) was arrested for riding on a whites-only car. He challenged the Louisiana law, saying it was against the United States Constitution. Plessy argued that the state law which required East Louisiana Railroad to segregate trains had denied him his rights under the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

The Supreme Court, in a 7-1 decision, ruled that the Louisiana law was valid. They said that requiring whites and blacks to ride in separate trains did not harm blacks in any way. Justice John Marshall Harlan was the only justice who thought the law was against the Constitution. He thought segregation made blacks feel inferior. He said that the Constitution is "color blind" and that no group of people should be given superiority under the law.[1]

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