Homer Plessy V. The State of Ferguson, Missouri
163 US 537
Plessy V. Ferguson
John H. Ferguson was the Lower court Judge and Roger B. Taney was the the Chief Justice
Chief Justice Roger B. Taney
The state of Louisiana enacted a law that required separate railway cars for black people and white people. This brought an uprising because of a mixed male of both black and white refused not to get up from his seat on a whites only passengers trains. Homer Adolf Plessy a french speaking creole was arrested, tried, and convicted in New Orleans of a violation of one of the segregation laws. Before he boarded the train he stated to the conductor that he was one-eighth black and refused to remove himself from the his seat and was then ejected from the train and was jailed overnight. After losing in two lower cases which the first one being the Criminal District Court for the Parish of Orleans in which Judge Ferguson of the State district court found Plessy guilty of not leaving the car for whites when asked to which denied claim to the Separate Car Act. The Second lower court which was the Louisiana State Supreme Court also rejected plessys argument that Judge Ferguson's ruling should not be overturned. Plessy then took this to the Supreme Court of the United States. Protesting the violation of his thirteenth and fourteenth amendment Plessy became the defendant in the May 18, 1896 United States Supreme court decision of Plessy V. Ferguson. Plessy's civil disobedience marked one of the first legal challenges to the separation of races in the south following the reconstruction period which was from 1865- 1877 laid out the process for readmitting southern states into the Union. The Fourteenth Amendment provided former slaves with national citizenship. Though he lost the case in 1896, the court later upheld Plessys Fourteenth Amendment.
The Primary lower court case was the Criminal District for the Parish of Orleans which Homer Plessy first case and the judge was Judge Ferguson who found Plessy guilty of not leaving the train car for whites when asked even though was part white.
The Secondary Lower court case was the Louisiana State Supreme Court which was also rejected Plessys argument that Judge Fergusons ruling should be overturned. The court affirmed the constitutionally of the Separate Car Act.
Homer Plessy petitioned the Louisiana Supreme Court not as an appeal of the district court decision but in a separate case on his behalf. One because Plessy argued the was only one-eighth blacks, also he argued that the Separate Car Act violated the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendment. The Third thing he said that the facilities were corrupted and needed to adjust the Equal Protection Clause. The second lower court case was rejected by the Louisiana State Supreme Court and thats when Plessy took appealed to take it to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Judge Ferguson of the court ruled that while the object of the Fourteenth Amendment was to create absolute equality of the two races before the law. He also explained that if one race is to be inferior to the other socially, the constitution of the United States cannot put them upon on the same plane. He stated that the Thirteenth Amendment applied only to slavery, and the Fourteenth Amendment was not intended to give African Americans social equality but only political and civil equality.
Homer Plessy only wanted to be treated equal as the white people. He wanted a leveled plane between blacks and whites even though he was seven-eighth white and one- eighth black he just wanted equal opportunities as well as the next person who sat beside him on the railway car. Plessy wanted justices and wanted a fair chance and the right to sit wherever he pleased without getting told to get up from the seat he was sitting in.
On May 18, 1896 the case was decided with the majority 7-1 with the favor decision being Ferguson and the majority opinion by Henry B. Brown and also whom wrote the majority opinion. The majority decided that it was Equal but separate accommodations for whites and blacks imposed by Louisiana do not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Which meant that there was no doubt that Homer Plessy would win the case.
Chief Justice John Marshall Harlan dissented from the majority opinion. He stated is there no end to how the ruling of class citizens to be treated. he proposed that the constitution was colorblind. John said in respect of the civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. John argued that the wrong decision of the case would poison the relations between the races. Being that the between the races were already aroused. Marshall's opinion would still not be enough for other justices opinion being that Marshall was all for the rights of black people to be equal, on the other hand while the opinion of the justices did not see any violations of the law. The case would still be decided with Plessy losing the case.
The Plessy V. Ferguson court case made a huge impact on the society we now have today and to our Constitution as well.The decision in Plessy v. Ferguson further promoted the racial segregation. There was not any major changes until fifty-eight years after the court case when another court case which was Brown V. Board of Education and that case encouraged integrated schools with, race, religion, and languages. This could have never happened if the Homer Plessy's case would not have ruled that the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendment gave African Americans social equality. This ruling was later overturned in the case of Brown against the Board of Education. Without these cases I would not be standing right here right now nor would I have friends that are not the same race that I am.