“Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.”
—Justice John Marshall Harlan,
Dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson
Louisiana shoemaker, Homer Plessy, arrested in ’92 for entering a “whites only” train car, took his case to the Supreme Court.
Today, he lost. The Court ruled that a state law requiring segregated train cars is constitutional if they are “equal.”
Justice Harlan, a former slave owner, wrote a stirring dissent. He insisted that such laws violate the 13th and 14th Amendments.
But Harlan, so often out of step with his colleagues, was the lone dissenter. Now segregation is legal.