Katzenbach v. Mcclung

379 U.S. 294 (1964)


McClung (P) owned a restaurant that served only white people. The restaurant's clientele was local, but most of its food was purchased through interstate commerce. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 had a provision stating that restaurants that obtained their food through interstate commerce could not discriminate on the basis of race. P brought suit to have that portion of the Act removed as unconstitutional. The District Court expressly found that a substantial portion of the food served in the restaurant had moved in interstate commerce. The District Court held that the Act could not be applied under the Fourteenth Amendment because it was conceded that the State of Alabama was not involved in the refusal of the restaurant to serve Negroes. It was also admitted that the Thirteenth Amendment was authority neither for validating nor for invalidating the Act. As to the Commerce Clause, the court found that it was an express grant of power to Congress to regulate interstate commerce, which consists of the movement of persons, goods or information from one state to another, and it found that the clause was also a grant of power to regulate intrastate activities, but only to the extent that action on its part is necessary or appropriate to the effective execution of its expressly granted power to regulate interstate commerce. There must be, it said, a close and substantial relation between local activities and interstate commerce which requires control of the former in the protection of the latter. The court concluded that the Congress, rather than finding facts sufficient to meet this rule, had legislated a conclusive presumption that a restaurant affects interstate commerce if it serves or offers to serve interstate travelers or if a substantial portion of the food which it serves has moved in commerce. The court held there was no demonstrable connection between food purchased in interstate commerce and sold in a restaurant and the conclusion of Congress that discrimination in the restaurant would affect that commerce. The appellate court agreed and held the Act to be unconstitutional when applied to P.