Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. vs.United States

Kamal Scott & Kalum Hughes

During the Movement, Congress passed the Act of 1964, which was designed to outlaw discrimination against African-Americans and women. The legislation addressed discriminatory policies in public accommodations, built upon Congress’ ability to regulate interstate trade. The Heart of Atlanta Motel, in Georgia, still refused to rent rooms to African-Americans. The motel’s owner filed suit in federal court, claiming that the Act was unconstitutional because Congress was superseding its authority to regulate interstate trade. He also claimed the Act violated his Fifth Amendment rights to not be to how to run his business and deprived him of his property without due process of law. Finally, he claimed that the Act violated his Thirteenth Amendment Rights because it created a type of “involuntary servitude” by forcing him to conduct business in a manner he would not chose. The government argued that hotels and motels denying accommodations for African-Americans severely restricted interstate travel. The case resulted in an injunction from federal District Court demanding the motel rent to African-Americans. The case was then appealed to the United States Supreme Court, where the Court also rejected the motel owner’s arguments. The Court asserted that Congress did act within its authority and that the Act of 1964 was a valid law.

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