Ex parte Plessy, 11,134

CourtLouisiana Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtFENNER, J.
Citation11 So. 948,45 La.Ann. 80
PartiesEX PARTE HOMER A. PLESSY
Docket Number11,134
Decision Date01 January 1893

11 So. 948

45 La.Ann. 80

EX PARTE HOMER A. PLESSY

No. 11,134

Supreme Court of Louisiana

January 1, 1893


Rehearing refused.

APPLICATION for Certiorari and Prohibition.

Albion W. Tourgee and Jas C. Walker for the Relator.

Lionel Adams for the Respondent.

OPINION

FENNER, J.

[45 La.Ann. 81] We have held that when a party is prosecuted for crime under a law alleged to be unconstitutional, in a case which is unappealable, and where a proper plea setting up the unconstitutionality has been overruled by the judge, a proper case arises for the exercise of our supervisory jurisdiction in determining whether the judge is exceeding the bounds of judicial power by entertaining a prosecution for a crime not created by law. State ex rel. Walker vs. Judge, 39 An. 132; State ex rel. Abbott vs. Judge, 44 An. 583.

Relator's application conforms to all the requirements of this rule. He alleges that he is being prosecuted for a violation of Act No. 111 of 1890; that said act is unconstitutional; that his plea of its unconstitutionality has been presented to, and overruled by, the respondent judge; and that the case is unappealable. He, therefore, applies for writs of certiorari and prohibition in order that we may determine the validity of the proceedings and, in case we find him entitled to such relief, may restrain further proceedings against him in the cause.

The judge, in his answer, maintains the constitutionality of the law and the validity of his proceeding.

The legislative act in question is entitled:

"An act to promote the comfort of passengers on railway trains; requiring all railway companies carrying passengers on their trains, in this State, to provide [11 So. 949] equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races, by providing separate coaches or compartments [45 La.Ann. 82] so as to secure separate accommodations; defining the duties of the officers of such railways; directing them to assign passengers to the coaches or compartments set aside for the use of the race to which such passengers belong; authorizing them to refuse to carry on their trains such passengers as may refuse to occupy the coaches or compartments to which he or she is assigned; to exonerate such railway companies from any and all blame or damages that might proceed from such refusal, to prescribe penalties for all violations of this act," etc.

The first section of the act requires that "all railway companies carrying passengers in their coaches in this State shall provide equal, but separate accommodations for the white and colored races, by providing two or more passenger coaches for each passenger train, or by dividing the passenger coaches by a partition so as to secure separate accommodations," and that "no person or persons shall be permitted to occupy seats in coaches other than the ones assigned to them on account of the race they belong to."

The second section provides, "That the officers of such passenger trains shall have power and are hereby required to assign each passenger to the coach or compartment used for the race to which such passenger belongs; any passenger insisting on going into a coach or compartment to which by race he does not belong shall be liable to a fine of $ 25, or in lieu thereof to imprisonment for a period of not more than twenty days in the parish prison;" and a like penalty is imposed on "any officer of any railroad insisting on assigning a passenger to a coach or compartment other than the one set aside for the race to which said passenger belongs;" and it is further provided that "should any passenger refuse to occupy the coach or compartment to which he or she is assigned by the officer of such railway, said officer shall have power to refuse to carry such passenger on his train, and for such refusal neither he nor the railway company shall be liable for damages in any of the courts of this State."

The 3d section provides penalties upon officers, directors and employees of railway companies who shall refuse or neglect to comply with the provisions of the act.

We have had occasion very recently to consider the constitutionality of this act as applicable to interstate passengers, and held that, if so applied, it would be unconstitutional because in violation [45 La.Ann. 83] of the exclusive right vested in Congress to regulate commerce between the States. State ex rel. Abbott vs. Judge, 44 An. 583.

The instant case presents no such application of the statute; but it appears on the face of the information that relator was proceeded against as "a passenger traveling wholly within the limits of the State of Louisiana on a passenger train belonging to the East Louisiana Railroad Company carrying passengers in their coaches within the State of Louisiana." It thus appears that the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution of the United States is not involved.

The relator's plea of the unconstitutionality of the statute contains no less than fourteen enumerated paragraphs, which do not require reproduction, because most of them are argumentative, and no provisions of the State or federal Constitutions are referred to as violated by the statute except the thirteenth and fourteenth amendments to the Constitution of the United States. The whole gravamen of relator's plea is contained in the fourteenth ground, which is as follows: "That the statute in question establishes an insidious distinction and discrimination between citizens of the United States based on race which is obnoxious to the fundamental principles of national citizenship, perpetuates involuntary servitude as regard citizens of the colored race under the merest pretence of promoting the comforts of passengers on railway trains, and in further respects abridges the privileges and immunities of the citizens of the United States and the rights secured by the thirteenth and fourteenth amendments of the federal Constitution."

So far as the thirteenth amendment is concerned its application to this statute may be at once eliminated because the Supreme Court of the United States has clearly decided that it does refer to rights of the character here involved. We will, for the sake of brevity, quote only the syllabus of the decision, as follows:

"The XIIIth Amendment relates only to slavery and involuntary servitude (which it abolishes), and although by its reflex action it establishes universal freedom in the United States,...

To continue reading

Request your trial
10 practice notes
  • Hart v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • March 22, 1905
    ...M. R. Co., 114 Mo. 88, 21 S. W. 457, 19 L. R. A. 269; Smith v. Chamberlain, 38 S. C. 529, 17 S. E. 371, 19 L. R. A. 710; Ex parte Plessy, 45 La. Ann. 80, 11 South. 948, 18 L. R. A. 639; Bowie v. Birmingham Ry. & Electric Co., 125 Ala. 397, 27 South. 1016, 50 L. R. A. 632, 82 Am. St. Rep. 24......
  • Mobile & O.R. Co. v. Spenny, 138
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Appeals
    • December 15, 1914
    ...by the federal Constitution and upheld. Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537, 16 Sup.Ct. 1138, 41 L.Ed. 256. See, also, Ex parte Plessy, 45 La.Ann. 80, 11 So. 948, 18 L.R.A. 639; So. Ry. Co. v. Thurman, 121 Ky. 716, 90 S.W. 240, 2 L.R.A. (N.S.) 1108; Bowie v. Birmingham Ry. Co., 125 Ala. 397, 2......
  • Plessy v. Ferguson, No. 210
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • May 18, 1896
    ...that the law under which the prosecution was had was constitutional and denied the relief prayed for by the petitioner (Ex parte Plessy, 45 La. Ann. 80, 11 South. 948); whereupon petitioner prayed for a writ of error from this court, which was allowed by the chief justice of the supreme cou......
  • Patterson v. Taylor
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • February 6, 1906
    ...101, 45 L.Ed. 244; Louisville, N. O. & T. Ry. Co. v. State of Mississippi, 133 U.S. 587, 10 S.Ct. 348, 33 L.Ed. 784; Ex parte Plessy, 45 La. Ann. 80, 11 [51 Fla. 285] South. 948, 18 L. R. A. 639, and authorities therein cited; West Chester & Philadelphia R. R. Co. v. Miles, 55 Pa. 209, 93 A......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
10 cases
  • Hart v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • March 22, 1905
    ...M. R. Co., 114 Mo. 88, 21 S. W. 457, 19 L. R. A. 269; Smith v. Chamberlain, 38 S. C. 529, 17 S. E. 371, 19 L. R. A. 710; Ex parte Plessy, 45 La. Ann. 80, 11 South. 948, 18 L. R. A. 639; Bowie v. Birmingham Ry. & Electric Co., 125 Ala. 397, 27 South. 1016, 50 L. R. A. 632, 82 Am. St. Rep. 24......
  • Mobile & O.R. Co. v. Spenny, 138
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Appeals
    • December 15, 1914
    ...by the federal Constitution and upheld. Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537, 16 Sup.Ct. 1138, 41 L.Ed. 256. See, also, Ex parte Plessy, 45 La.Ann. 80, 11 So. 948, 18 L.R.A. 639; So. Ry. Co. v. Thurman, 121 Ky. 716, 90 S.W. 240, 2 L.R.A. (N.S.) 1108; Bowie v. Birmingham Ry. Co., 125 Ala. 397, 2......
  • Plessy v. Ferguson, No. 210
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • May 18, 1896
    ...that the law under which the prosecution was had was constitutional and denied the relief prayed for by the petitioner (Ex parte Plessy, 45 La. Ann. 80, 11 South. 948); whereupon petitioner prayed for a writ of error from this court, which was allowed by the chief justice of the supreme cou......
  • Patterson v. Taylor
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • February 6, 1906
    ...101, 45 L.Ed. 244; Louisville, N. O. & T. Ry. Co. v. State of Mississippi, 133 U.S. 587, 10 S.Ct. 348, 33 L.Ed. 784; Ex parte Plessy, 45 La. Ann. 80, 11 [51 Fla. 285] South. 948, 18 L. R. A. 639, and authorities therein cited; West Chester & Philadelphia R. R. Co. v. Miles, 55 Pa. 209, 93 A......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT