Civil Rights Cases

109 U.S. 3 (1883)


Section 1 of the Civil Rights Act of 1875 provided: 'All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of inns, public conveyances on land or water, theatres, and other places of public amusement; subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law, and applicable alike to citizens of every race and color, regardless of any previous condition of servitude.' Sec. 2 made violation a misdemeanor and also authorized aggrieved persons to recover $500 'for every such offense.' This decision involved five cases, from five different states. Four of the cases were criminal indictments; the fifth, an action for a civil penalty. The cases grew out of exclusions of blacks from hotels, theaters, and railroads. Plaintiffs, African Americans brought suit against a real estate developer who refused to sell them a home because of their race.