The Betrayal of Equal Rights by the Supreme Court, 1865-1903
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A potent and original examination of how the Supreme Court subverted justice and empowered the Jim Crow era.
In the following years following the Civil War, the 13th Amendment
abolished slavery; the 14th conferred citizenship and equal protection
under the law to white and black; and the 15th gave black American males
the right to vote. In 1875, the most comprehensive civil rights
legislation in the nation's history granted all Americans "the full and
equal enjoyment" of public accomodations. Just eight years later, the
Supreme Court, by an 8-1 vote, overturned the Civil Rights Act as
unconstitutional and, in the process, disemboweled the equal protection
provisions of the 14th Amendment. Using court records and accounts of
the period, Lawrence Goldstone chronicles how "by the dawn of the 20th
century the U.S. had become the nation of Jim Crow laws, quasi-slavery,
and precisely the same two-tiered system of justice that had existed in
the slave era."
The very human story of how and why this happened make Inherently
Unequal as important as it is provocative. Examining both celebrated
decisions like Plessy v. Ferguson and those often overlooked, Goldstone
demonstrates how the Supreme Court turned a blind eye to the obvious
reality of racism, defending instead the business establishment and
status quo--thereby legalizing the brutal prejudice that came to
definite the Jim Crow era.
- Bloomsbury Publishing, January 2011
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