Heart of Atlanta Motel (P) operated a hotel where most guests were from out of state. They wanted to exclude blacks from staying there.
P filed suit against U.S. asking that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 be found unconstitutional as exceeding Commerce Clause power so that they could continue their anti-black policy.
Lower court held Civil Rights Act constitutional.
SCOTUS affirmed, Civil Rights Act constitutional.
Did Congress exceed its Commerce Clause power by depriving motels the right to choose their own customers?
Congress did not exceed its Commerce Clause power in depriving motels the right to choose their own customers since the discriminatory practices of such motels has a significant effect on interstate commerce.
The record of the passage of the Civil Rights Act is replete with evidence of the burdens that discrimination by race places on interstate commerce.
The American people have become increasingly mobile.
Blacks are often unable to obtain lodging and have to call upon friends to put them up overnight.
There is evidence that this uncertainty stemming from racial discrimination had the effect of discouraging travel on the part of a substantial portion of the black community.
That Congress was legislating against moral wrongs in this case renders its enactment no less valid.
If it is interstate commerce that feels the pinch, it does not matter how local the operation which applies the squeeze.
How obstructions in commerce may be removed is within the sound and exclusive discretion of Congress.
This ruling should be based upon Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment, not on Commerce Clause power.
Using the Commerce Clause analogizes the movement of people in commerce to the movement of fruit or cattle.
Resting the ruling on the Fourteenth Amendment would also get rid of the uncertainty of whether certain institutions act in interstate commerce.