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Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States

Significance, Supreme Court Affirms Congressional Authority To Regulate Private Business Under The Commerce Clause


Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc.


United States

Appellant's Claim

That provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, requiring hotel and motel owners to provide accommodations to African Americans, cannot be enforced against privately owned public accommodations.

Chief Lawyer for Appellant

Moreton Rolleston, Jr.

Chief Lawyer for Appellee

Archibald Cox, U.S. Solicitor General

Justices for the Court

Hugo Lafayette Black, William J. Brennan, Jr., Tom C. Clark (writing for the Court), William O. Douglas, Arthur Goldberg, John Marshall Harlan II, Potter Stewart, Earl Warren, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting



Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

14 December 1964


By a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court upheld the public accommodations provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Related Cases

  • Hall v. DeCuir, 95 U.S. 485 (1878).
  • Civil Rights Cases, 100 U.S. 3 (1887).
  • Hoke v. United States, 227 U.S. 308 (1913).
  • Caminetti v. United States, 242 U.S. 470 (1917).
  • Katzenbach v. McClung, 379 U.S. 294 (1964).
  • Griffin v. Maryland, 378 U.S. 130 (1971).

Further Readings

  • Bell, Derrick A. Race, Racism, and American Law, 2nd ed. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, 1980.
  • Wood, L. Ingleby. The Drive to Desegregate Places of Public Accommodation. New York: Garland, 1991.
  • Nieman, Donald G., ed. Black Southerners and the Law, 1865-1900. New York, NY: Garland, 1994.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1963 to 1972