• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court reargued this racial discrimination case, apparently intending to overturn a remaining provision of the 1866 Civil Rights Act, but backed off in the face of widespread controversy.

In Patterson, the Supreme Court was asked to determine whether an African AmericanAfrican Americans;employment discrimination[employment discrimination] woman’s charge of racially motivated employment harassment was a cause of action under Title 42, section 1981, a surviving part of the 1866 Civil Rights ActCivil Rights Act of 1866. The Court had used this provision of the 1866 act as a way of stopping racial discrimination in private and contractual relationships in Runyon v. McCrary[case]Runyon v. McCrary[Runyon v. McCrary] (1976) and Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co.[case]Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co.[Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co.] (1968). The Court ordered a reargument and decided to determine whether Runyon should be overturned. Its action resulted in deep internal division and widespread criticism in the country. The majority believed there was need to issue a written defense of its reargument order in writing.Discrimination, race;Patterson v. McLean Credit Union[Patterson v. MacLean Credit Union]

Upon reargument, the Court decided unanimously not to overturn Runyon but limited the scope of the ruling dramatically. The Court, however, ruled five to four that section 1981 did not apply to what an employer did after entering into a contract with an employee and, therefore, that the woman’s claims of racial harassment after her hiring did not fall under section 1981. Not only were there four dissents on this issue, but Congress quickly passed the 1991 Civil Rights Act, which restored the legal standard in use prior to the Patterson ruling.

Buchanan v. Warley

Civil Rights Acts

Corrigan v. Buckley

Employment discrimination

Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co.

Katzenbach v. McClung

Race and discrimination

Reitman v. Mulkey

Runyon v. McCrary

Shelley v. Kraemer

Categories: History Content