Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States - 379 U.S. 241 (1964)
U.S. Supreme Court
Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States, 379 U.S. 241 (1964)
Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States
Argued October 5, 1964
Decided December 14, 1964
379 U.S. 241
Appellant, the owner of a large motel in Atlanta, Georgia, which restricts its clientele to white persons, three-fourths of whom are transient interstate travelers, sued for declaratory relief and to enjoin enforcement of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, contending that the prohibition of racial discrimination in places of public accommodation affecting commerce exceeded Congress' powers under the Commerce Clause and violated other parts of the Constitution. A three-judge District Court upheld the constitutionality of Title II, §§ 201(a), (b)(1) and (c)(1), the provisions attacked, and, on appellees' counterclaim, permanently enjoined appellant from refusing to accommodate Negro guests for racial reasons.
1. Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a valid exercise of Congress' power under the Commerce Clause as applied to a place of public accommodation serving interstate travelers. Civil Right Cases, 109 U. S. 3, distinguished. Pp. 379 U. S. 249-262.
(a) The interstate movement of persons is "commerce" which concerns more than one State. Pp. 379 U. S. 255-256.
(b) The protection of interstate commerce is within the regulatory power of Congress under the Commerce Clause whether or not the transportation of persons between States is "commercial." P. 379 U. S. 256.
(c) Congress' action in removing the disruptive effect which it found racial discrimination has on interstate travel is not invalidated because Congress was also legislating against what it considered to be moral wrongs. P. 379 U. S. 257.
(d) Congress had power to enact appropriate legislation with regard to a place of public accommodation such as appellant's motel even if it is assumed to be of a purely "local" character, as Congress' power over interstate commerce extends to the regulation of local incidents thereof which might have a substantial and harmful effect upon that commerce. P. 379 U. S. 258.
(2) The prohibition in Title II of racial discrimination in public accommodations affecting commerce does not violate the Fifth
Amendment as being a deprivation of property or liberty without due process of law. Pp. 379 U. S. 258-261.
(3) Such prohibition does not violate he Thirteenth Amendment as being "involuntary servitude." P. 379 U. S. 261.
231 F.Supp. 393, affirmed.