Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)

The U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), upholding a Louisiana state law requiring separate but equal train coaches, did not specifically discuss questions of surveillance, security, and privacy; however, there are implications in it regarding all three issues in the Court’s judgment. Homer Plessy, a man of mixed race who was considered “black” by Louisiana law, challenged a Louisiana state law that required all rail companies to provide separate but equal coaches for blacks and whites. If passengers did not comply with the law, they were subject to fines and imprisonment. The law only applied to those coaches that would travel within the state boundaries (i.e., those that could be considered intrastate commerce). Plessy paid for a first-class passage and sat ...

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