Justice Harlan, Civil Freedom and Citizenship

Dissent in Context (1868-1911)

Map 3 illustrates Part II.C of the article (“The Competing Interpretation: A New Charter of Freedom”). In this section, we show how the People’s narrative arrived in Supreme Court doctrine via a series of critical dissents by Justice Harlan. Although earlier cases like Strauder and Neal had reached good civil-rights results, their justification was weak. In contrast, Harlan’s dissent in the Civil Rights Cases recognized that Reconstruction created a new fundamental right of civil freedom inhering in American citizenship.

In chronological order, the cases giving rise to the Supreme Court opinions on the map are: United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542 (1876); Strauder v. West Virginia, 100 U.S. 303 (1879); Neal v. Delaware, 103 U.S. 370 (1880); Civil Rights Cases, 109 U.S. 3 (1883); Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896); Hodges v. United States, 203 U.S. 1 (1906).

Click cases on the map to view original text.

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