Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States
The Legal Environment
October 31, 2014
1. Why was this case so important?
“The Heart of Atlanta Motel refused to rent rooms to blacks. Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made it illegal for motels, hotels, and other public accommodations to discriminate against guests based on their race. After the act was passed, the Heart of Atlanta Motel continued to refuse to rent rooms to blacks. The owner-operator of the motel brought a declaratory relief action in U.S. district court, Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States, to have the Civil Rights Act of 1964 declared unconstitutional.” (Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States)
2. Why did the U.S. Supreme Court develop the “effects on interstate commerce” test? Section 201 of the CRA provides that “[a]ll persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin. It defines generally “public accommodation” to include inns, motels, restaurants, cafeterias, gas stations, theaters, concert halls, sports arenas, and other similar establishments, so long as their actions “affect commerce.” In other words, the CRA carefully defines “public accommodation” as any type of establishment that might be necessary for travel or might be a destination for travel.” (Civil Rights Act of 1964)
3. Is most commerce considered “interstate commerce”? Why or why not? “Commerce is the whole system of an economy that constitutes an environment for business. The system includes, legal, economic, political, social, cultural and technological systems that are in operation in any country or internationally.” (Maryland Law Review) Interstate commerce is the trade, traffic, or...
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