Liberty, Property, and Privacy: Toward a Jurisprudence of Substantive Due Process

By Edward Keynes | Go to book overview

4
Congressional Protection of Fundamental Rights in the Reconstruction Era

During the Reconstruction Era, Congress expanded the power of the national government to protect life, liberty, and property rights against public and private deprivation. Employing its enforcement powers under the Thir- teenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, Congress adopted a series of civil rights acts that extended judicial and executive protection to all persons against state interference with, or failure to protect, fundamental rights.1 While the civil rights acts authorized the federal courts to protect the statutory rights that Congress conferred, the Circuit Court Jurisdiction Act (the Removal Act) of March 3, 1875, greatly expanded national court jurisdiction over virtually all cases raising federal constitutional and statutory questions.2 By providing access to a federal forum, the Removal Act

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1
The Enforcement Act of 1870, Ch. 114, 16 Stat. 140 ( 1870), which reenacted the Civil Rights Act of 1866; the Enforcement (Ku Klux Klan) Act of 1871, Ch. 22, 17 Stat. 13 ( 1871), codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which established civil liability for state deprivations of federally protected rights; and the Civil Rights Act of 1875, Ch. 114, 18 Stat. 335 ( 1875), which provided for equal access to transportation and places of public accommodation (hereafter referred to as the Public Accommodations Act).
2
Circuit Court Jurisdiction Act of March 3, 1875, Ch. 137, 18 Stat. 470 ( 1875). In controversies exceeding a value of five hundred dollars, Congress authorized the removal of cases from state to federal courts. In the event that a circuit court dismissed or remanded a petition to the state courts. Congress granted the Supreme Court appellate jurisdiction to review the decision.

-75-

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