Supreme Court Info Essay

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Carolyn Oh * Korematsu vs. United States * Plessy vs. Ferguson * In 1890, Louisiana passed a law that said that Blacks and Whites have to be separated while riding a train within the state. This would work by having Blacks in one car and Whites in another. The problem was that the black cars weren't as good or as clean as the white cars. There were punishments to make sure the black and white passengers remained separate. For example, if you were a black and you sat in the white car you would either have a fine of $25 or 20 days in jail. The Court Case Begins * In 1892, a 30-year old shoemaker named Homer Plessy was arrested for sitting in a car for only white people on the East Louisiana Railroad. He had refused to move to a black car. Even though he was seven-eighths white and only one-eighth black, he was put in jail. The Louisiana law stated that if you had any black ancestors, you were considered black. Because of this, Plessy was required to sit in the "colored" or "black" car. * In court, Plessy argued that the law violated the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. The Thirteenth Amendment made slavery illegal in the United States. The Fourteenth Amendment states that all persons born in the United States are citizens of the United States and of the state where they live. It also says that no state can deny citizens of the United States equal protection of the laws. Plessy argued that the Louisiana law violated these amendments because on the train Blacks and Whites could be separate, if it was equal, but it wasn't. The White cars were nicer and cleaner than the Black cars. Judge John Howard Ferguson had recently ruled the law "unconstitutional on trains that traveled through many states," but in this case, Judge Ferguson ruled that Plessy was guilty, because the state had the right to regulate railroad companies that

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