|Chief Justice Roger B. Taney|
|Slaughterhouses, San Francisco, 1906|
|New Orleans, 1869|
|Justice Samuel F. Miller|
|Justice Stephen J.Field|
The second and third cases discussed during the video presentation were two closely-related cases that the Court decided together. Strauder v. West Virginia and Ex Parte Virginia involved excluding African Americans from jury service because of their race. In both cases, the Supreme Court decided that these were in clear violation of the 14th amendment, and found for the plaintiffs. These cases were argued within the first two decades of the passage of the 14th Amendment in 1868; the Slaughterhouse Cases in 1873 and Strauder and Ex Parte Virginia in 1879. A third case, decided in 1896, was even more significant, however.
In a stinging dissent, former slave owner Justice John Marshall Harlan held
Harlan had earlier dissented in the Civil Rights Cases, which was handed down in 1883. The Civil Rights decision invalidated the 1875 Civil Rights Act, which made it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, color, or former condition of servitude in private accommodations. The Court decided that while Congress could end the condition of servitude, and essentially take slave owners' property without due process or compensation (by ending slavery), they could not prevent private citizens provide equality of service in non-governmental situations.
The white race deems itself to be the dominant race in this country. And so it is in prestige, in achievements, in education, in wealth and in power. So, I doubt not, it will continue to be for all time if it remains true to its great heritage and holds fast to the principles of constitutional liberty. But in view of the constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. The law regards man as man, and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved.
Justice John Marshall Harlan
Its wide applicability has made the 14th Amendment a vital piece of law since its ratification in 1868. Besides its importance in determining which people receive the full rights, privileges, and immunities of citizenship, the 14th Amendment is also at the heart of the dispute over the role of the federal government in ensuring the rights of individuals. Before ratification of the 14th Amendment, many people believed that in fact the states were a safeguard against the tyranny of a powerful central government; that is the basis for republicanism (with emphasis upon the small "r"). Most republicans before the Civil War were also advocated of "states rights," and the superiority of the states over the federal government. This dispute over the role of the federal government in attempting to ensure the rights of all without discrimination has remained in contention throughout the 20th century--and into the 21st