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Is Racial Equality Unconstitutional?$
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Mark Golub

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190683603

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190683603.001.0001

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The Lessons of Plessy

The Lessons of Plessy

Chapter:
(p.63) Chapter 3 The Lessons of Plessy
Source:
Is Racial Equality Unconstitutional?
Author(s):

Mark Golub

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190683603.003.0003

This chapter traces the language of color-blind constitutionalism to its origins in Justice Harlan’s dissenting opinion in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) and to the legal briefs of Homer Plessy’s attorney, Albion Tourgée. Rejecting common interpretations of Harlan’s phrase “Our Constitution is color-blind,” the chapter emphasizes Plessy’s concern with racial indeterminacy and the race-making power of law rather than its textual authority in debates between antisubordination and antidiscrimination theories of equal protection.

Keywords:   Plessy v. Ferguson, Homer Plessy, color-blindness, Albion Tourgée, John Marshall Harlan, Comité des Citoyens, Henry Billings Brown, race, law, racism

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