Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co., 392 U.S. 409; 88 S. Ct. 2186; 20 L. Ed. 2d 1189 (1968)

Facts—Jones claimed that the Mayer Company refused to sell him a house in a particular section of St. Louis County solely because he was African American. A federal statute that Congress enacted in 1866 under its power to enforce the Thirteenth Amendment places all citizens on the same level as white citizens to receive, hold, and dispose of real and personal property.

Question—Does the federal statute of 1866 apply to private as well as public sale or rental of property?


ReasonsJ. Stewart (7–2). Congress has power under the Thirteenth Amendment to determine what are the “badges and the incidents of slavery” and the authority to translate that determination into legislation. Such badges of slavery include restraints on the right to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, and convey property. The statute prohibits all discrimination against blacks in matters of property by private owners as well as by public au- thorities.

J. Harlan, dissenting, questioned both the Court’s construction of the Thirteenth Amendment and the wisdom of addressing the issue using a nineteenth century law just as Congress had adopted the Civil Rights Act of 1968 to remedy racial discrimination in housing.

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