LAWS 310 Heart of Atlanta Motel

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LAWS 310 Heart of Atlanta Motel
Read the summary of Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States in Chapter 2 and answer the following…

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LAWS 310 Heart of Atlanta Motel

LAWS 310 Heart of Atlanta Motel

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Read the summary of Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States in Chapter 2 and answer the following questions.

“The American Constitution is, so far as I can see, the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.”

W. E. Gladstone Kin Beyond Sea (1878)

 Landmark U.S. Supreme Court Case Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States

“One need only examine the evidence which we have discussed … to see that Congress may … prohibit racial discrimination by motels serving travelers, however ‘local’ their operations may appear.”

—Clark, Justice

The Heart of Atlanta Motel, which was located in the state of Georgia, had 216 rooms available to guests. The motel was readily accessible to motorists using U.S. interstate highways 75 and 85 and Georgia state highways 23 and 41. The motel solicited patronage from outside the state of Georgia through various national advertising media, including magazines of national circulation. Approximately 75 percent of the motel’s registered guests were from out of state. The Heart of Atlanta Motel refused to rent rooms to blacks.

Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made it illegal for motels, hotels, and other public accommodations to discriminate against guests based on their race. After the act was passed, the Heart of Atlanta Motel continued to refuse to rent rooms to blacks. The owner-operator of the motel brought a declaratory relief action in U.S. district court, Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States, to have the Civil Rights Act of 1964 declared unconstitutional. The power of Congress over interstate commerce is not confined to the regulation of commerce among the states. It extends to those activities intrastate which so affect interstate commerce or the exercise of the power of Congress over it as to make regulation of them appropriate means to the attainment of a legitimate end, the exercise of the granted power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce. One need only examine the evidence which we have discussed above to see that Congress may—as it has—prohibit racial discrimination by motels serving travelers, however “local” their operations may appear.

The U.S. Supreme Court held that the challenged provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were constitutional as a proper exercise of the commerce power of the federal government. Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States, 379 U.S. 241, 85 S.Ct. 348, 13 L.Ed.2d 258, Web 1964 U.S. Lexis 2187 (Supreme Court of the United States)

Critical Legal Thinking Questions

Why was this case so important? Why did the U.S. Supreme Court develop the “effects on interstate commerce” test? Is most commerce considered “interstate commerce” that can be regulated by the federal government? plaintiff argued that Congress, in passing the act, had exceeded its powers to regulate interstate commerce under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The U.S. Supreme Court held that the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibited discrimination in accommodations properly regulated interstate commerce. In reaching its decision, the U.S. Supreme Court stated:

  • The power of Congress over interstate commerce is not confined to the regulation of commerce among the states. It extends to those activities intrastate which so affect interstate commerce or the exercise of the power of Congress over it as to make regulation of them appropriate means to the attainment of a legitimate end, the exercise of the granted power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce. One need only examine the evidence which we have discussed above to see that Congress may—as it has—prohibit racial discrimination by motels serving travelers, however “local” their operations may appear.

The U.S. Supreme Court held that the challenged provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were constitutional as a proper exercise of the commerce power of the federal government. Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States, 379 U.S. 241, 85 S.Ct. 348, 13 L.Ed.2d 258, Web 1964 U.S. Lexis 2187 (Supreme Court of the United States)

Critical Legal Thinking Questions

Why was this case so important? Why did the U.S. Supreme Court develop the “effects on interstate commerce” test? Is most commerce considered “interstate commerce” that can be regulated by the federal government?

Preview:

The Constitution of the United States is considered as the most fundamental and supreme law of the land.  It superseded the Articles of Confederation, which was the prevailing law at the time the U.S. declared independence from the…