Jones v. Alfred E. Mayer Co. Case Brief

Summary of Jones v. Alfred E. Mayer Co. (1968)

Relevant Facts: Jones discriminated against for wanting to buy property that a real estate developer would no sell to them. They argue section 1982 of the then Civil Rights Act of 1866 held “all citizens of the U.S. Shall have the same right, in every State and Territory, as it is enjoyed by white citizens thereof to inherit, purchase, lease, sell and hold, and convey real and personal property.” Court first held that section 1982 bars all racial discrimination, including private discrimination, in the sale or rental of property.

Issue: Under constitutional law, does Congress have the power to so what section 1982 purports to do when that purpose is to prohibit all racial discrimination, private and public, in the sale and rental of property?

Holding: Yes. Congress is granted the constitutional power to enforce the prohibition of both private and public discrimination in the sale and rental of property.

Court’s Rationale/Reasoning: The Court starts with the 13th amendment, which it says clearly supports the prohibition of discrimination, after broadly interpreting the rule above. Further the original intent of the Framers of the 13th amendment, who debated on the Civil Rights Act in 1866, which is now in question, further issued statements backing the same premise the Court came up with: “we may destroy all these discriminations in civil rights against the black man; and if we cannot, our constitutional amendment amounts to nothing.”

From this, the Court finds the intent of the legislation in creating the amendment was to do the same thing in regards to legislation to further its cause, namely the Civil Rights Act of 1866. If there were no authority for Congress to enact such an Act, the Court says the amendment would be nothing but a worthless piece of paper. The ability for communities to segregate is just a futurist spin on slavery. “A dollar in the hands of a black man should be able to purchase the same thing as that in the hands of a white man.”

Rule: Congress has the power to pass all laws necessary and proper for abolishing all badges and incidents of slavery in the United States. (“Enabling Clause” taken from the 13th amendment)

Important Dicta: N/A.

Dissenting: N/A. (Harlan and White’s opinion’s omitted.)

Concurring: N/A. (Douglas omitted)

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