Katzenbach v. McClung Case Brief

Summary of Katzenbach v. McClung
S. Ct. 1964

Facts: McClung, the owner of Ollie’s Barbecue, which caters to family and white-collar workers, also provides a take-out service for African-Americans. Ollie’s employees are composed of apprx. 24 African-Americans. Ollie’s purchased 46% ($70,000) of its meat from outside the state. Ollie’s claim that to serve African-Americans would entail the loss of business since they have excluded since opening in 1927 (37 yrs).

Issue: Whether Title II applies to restaurants which receive $70,000 worth of food that has moved in commerce is a valid exercise of power by Congress under the Commerce clause?

Holding: The S. Ct. held that Congress had ample basis upon which to find that racial discrimination at restaurants which received from out of state a substantial portion of food served had direct and adverse effect on interstate commerce.

Procedure: PL action to enjoined (AG Katzenbach) enforcement of Civil Rights Act. The three-judge District Court for the N. Dist. AB, granted injunctive relief, and a direct appeal was taken. Reversed. {The Dst. Ct. expressly found that a substantial portion of food served had moved interstate.}

Rule: Even if an activity be local and though it may not be regarded as commerce, it may still, whatever is nature, be reached by Congress if it exerts a substantial economic effect on interstate commerce. {Wickard v Filburn} Title II CRA 1964 – any restaurant selling food for consumption on the premises are under the Act if it serves or offers to serve interstate travelers or a substantial portion of the food which it serves . . . has moved commerce

Ct. Rationale: Civil Rights Act provides statutory proceeding for determination of rights and duties arising thereunder. Public accommodations provisions of Civil Rights Act, as applied to restaurants serving food, a substantial portion of which had moved in interstate commerce, was valid exercise of power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce. Legislative testimony shows that discrimination in restaurants has a direct effect upon interstate travel by African Americans. The food purchased may be trivial by itself, but taken together with that of many others similarly situated is far from trivial.

PL A: Racial discrimination, as it affects commerce, should be viewed by Congress on a case by case basis. All restaurants meeting the criteria set out in the Act do not affect Commerce.

Def A: Racial discrimination at restaurants, which receive from out of state a substantial portion of the food served does, in fact, impose commercial burdens of national magnitude upon interstate commerce.

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