United States v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598, 28 (2000)

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Cite as: 529 U. S. 598 (2000)

Opinion of the Court

abundant evidence, however, to show that the Congresses that enacted the Civil Rights Acts of 1871 and 1875 had a purpose similar to that of Congress in enacting 13981: There were state laws on the books bespeaking equality of treatment, but in the administration of these laws there was discrimination against newly freed slaves. The statement of Representative Garfield in the House and that of Senator Sumner in the Senate are representative:

"[T]he chief complaint is not that the laws of the State are unequal, but that even where the laws are just and equal on their face, yet, by a systematic mal-administration of them, or a neglect or refusal to enforce their provisions, a portion of the people are denied equal protection under them." Cong. Globe, 42d Cong., 1st Sess., App. 153 (1871) (statement of Rep. Garfield).

"The Legislature of South Carolina has passed a law giving precisely the rights contained in your 'supplementary civil rights bill.' But such a law remains a dead letter on her statute-books, because the State courts, comprised largely of those whom the Senator wishes to obtain amnesty for, refuse to enforce it." Cong. Globe, 42d Cong., 2d Sess., 430 (1872) (statement of Sen. Sumner).

See also, e. g., Cong. Globe, 42d Cong., 1st Sess., at 653 (statement of Sen. Osborn); id., at 457 (statement of Rep. Coburn); id., at App. 78 (statement of Rep. Perry); 2 Cong. Rec. 457 (1874) (statement of Rep. Butler); 3 Cong. Rec. 945 (1875) (statement of Rep. Lynch).

But even if that distinction were valid, we do not believe it would save 13981's civil remedy. For the remedy is simply not "corrective in its character, adapted to counteract and redress the operation of such prohibited [s]tate laws or proceedings of [s]tate officers." Civil Rights Cases, supra, at 18. Or, as we have phrased it in more recent cases, prophylactic legislation under 5 must have a " 'congru-


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