Open main menu

Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States (379 U.S. 241)/Concurrence Goldberg

Court Documents
Case Syllabus
Opinion of the Court
Concurring Opinions
Linked case(s):
231 F. Supp. 393
85 S.Ct. 1

Mr. Justice Goldberg, concurring.[*]

I join in the opinions and judgments of the Court, since I agree "that the action of the Congress in the adoption of the Act as applied here . . . is within the power granted it by the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, as interpreted by this Court for 140 years," ante, at 261.

The primary purpose of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, however, as the Court recognizes, and as I would underscore, is the vindication of human dignity and not mere economics. The Senate Commerce Committee made this quite clear:

"The primary purpose of . . . [the Civil Rights Act], then, is to solve this problem, the deprivation of personal dignity that surely accompanies denials [p292] of equal access to public establishments. Discrimination is not simply dollars and cents, hamburgers and movies; it is the humiliation, frustration, and embarrassment that a person must surely feel when he is told that he is unacceptable as a member of the public because of his race or color. It is equally the inability to explain to a child that regardless of education, civility, courtesy, and morality he will be denied the right to enjoy equal treatment, even though he be a citizen of the United States and may well be called upon to lay down his life to assure this Nation continues." S. Rep. No. 872, 88th Cong., 2d Sess., 16.

Moreover, that this is the primary purpose of the Act is emphasized by the fact that while § 201(c) speaks only in terms of establishments which "affect commerce," it is clear that Congress based this section not only on its power under the Commerce Clause but also on § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment.[1] The cases cited in the Court's opinions are conclusive that Congress could exercise its [p293] powers under the Commerce Clause to accomplish this purpose. As §§ 201(b) and (c) are undoubtedly a valid exercise of the Commerce Clause power for the reasons stated in the opinions of the Court, the Court considers that it is unnecessary to consider whether it is additionally supportable by Congress' exertion of its power under § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment.

In my concurring opinion in Bell v. Maryland, 378 U.S. 226, 317, however, I expressed my conviction that § 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees to all Americans the constitutional right "to be treated as equal members of the community with respect to public accommodations," and that "Congress [has] authority under § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment, or under the Commerce Clause, Art. I, § 8, to implement the rights protected by § 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment. In the give-and-take of the legislative process, Congress can fashion a law drawing the guidelines necessary and appropriate to facilitate practical administration and to distinguish between genuinely public and private accommodations." The challenged Act is just such a law and, in my view, Congress clearly had authority under both § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Commerce Clause to enact the Civil Rights Act of 1964.


* ^  [This opinion applies also to No. 543, Katzenbach v. McClung, post, p. 294.]

  1. Hearings in Congress as well as statements by administration spokesmen show that the original bill, presented by the administration, was so based even though it contained no clause which resembled § 201(d)—the so-called "state action" provision—or which even mentioned "state action." See, e.g., Hearings before Senate Committee on Commerce on S. 1732, 88th Cong., 1st Sess., 23, 27–28, 57, 74, 230, 247–248, 250, 252–253, 256, 259; Hearings before Senate Judiciary Committee on S. 1731, 88th Cong., 1st Sess., 151, 152, 186; Hearings before Subcommittee No. 5 of the House Committee on the Judiciary on H.R. 7152, 88th Cong., 1st Sess., 1396, 1410; Hearings before House Judiciary Committee on H.R. 7152, as amended by Subcommittee No. 5, 88th Cong., 1st Sess., 2693, 2699–2700; S. Rep. No. 872, 88th Cong., 2d Sess., 2. The later additions of "state action" language to § 201(a) and § 201(d) did not remove the dual Commerce Clause-Fourteenth Amendment support from the rest of the bill, for those who added this clause did not intend thereby to bifurcate its constitutional basis. This language and § 201(d) were added, first, in order to make certain that the Act would cover all or almost all of the situations as to which this Court might hold that § 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment applied. Senator Hart stated that not to do so would "embarrass Congress [p293] because . . . the reach of the administration bill would be less inclusive than that Court-established right." Hearings before Senate Commerce Committee, supra, at 256. See also id., at 259–262. Second, the sponsors of § 201(d) were trying to make even clearer the Fourteenth Amendment basis of Title II. See, e.g., Hearings before Subcommittee No. 5 of the House Committee, supra, at 1413–1418; Hearings before the Senate Commerce Committee, supra, at 259–262. There is no indication that they thought the inclusion of § 201(d) would remove the Fourteenth Amendment foundation of the rest of the title. Third, the history of the bill after provisions similar to § 201(d) were added contains references to the dual foundation of all Title II provisions before us. See Hearings before Subcommittee No. 5 of the House Committee, supra, at 1396, 1410; Hearings before House Judiciary Committee, supra, at 2693, 2699–2700; 110 Cong. Rec. 1925–1928.