The Supreme Court held that a state law prohibiting segregation could not be applied to carriers engaged in interstate commerce, which was under the exclusive supervision of Congress.
During Reconstruction, the Louisiana legislature passed a statute forbidding public carriers in the state from segregating passengers according to race. Josephine DeCuir, a black woman, was traveling in a steamboat between two Louisiana cities on the Mississippi River when she was refused admission into a cabin reserved for whites. After she won a damage award in state court, the company appealed the award.
Speaking for a unanimous Supreme Court, Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite
Commerce, regulation of
Penn Central Transportation Co. v. City of New York
Race and discrimination