Katzenbach v. McClung
379 U.S. 294 (1964)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Katzenbach v. McClung, 379 U.S. 294 (1964)

Katzenbach v. McClung

No. 543

Argued October 5, 1964

Decided December 14, 1964

379 U.S. 294


Appellees, whose restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama, caters to local white customers with take-out service for Negroes, serving food a substantial portion of which has moved in interstate commerce, sued to enjoin appellants from enforcing against their restaurant and others Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which they claimed was unconstitutional. A three-judge District Court granted an injunction, holding that there was no demonstrable connection between food purchased in interstate commerce and sold in a restaurant and Congress' conclusion that discrimination in the restaurant would affect commerce so as to warrant regulation of local activities to protect interstate commerce.


1. Since interference with governmental action has occurred and the constitutionality of Title II is before the Court in a companion case, the Court reaches the merits of this case by considering the complaint as an application for declaratory judgment, instead of denying relief for want of equity jurisdiction as it would ordinarily do on the ground that appellees should have waited to pursue the statutory procedures for adjudication of their rights. Pp. 379 U. S. 295-296.

2. Congress acted within its power to protect and foster commerce in extending coverage of Title II to restaurants serving food a substantial portion of which has moved in interstate commerce, since it had ample basis to conclude that racial discrimination by such restaurants burdened interstate trade. Pp. 383 U. S. 300-305.

233 F.Supp. 815, reversed

Page 379 U. S. 295

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Primary Holding

Federal laws like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies not only to restaurants that serve interstate travelers but also to restaurants that use food that has traveled in interstate commerce.