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The Papers of Justice Tom C. Clark

DesegregationSchool PrayerFourth AmendmentFifth AmendmentVoting RightsCommunismMexican American Civil Rights

Sweatt v. PainterBrown v. Board of EducationHeart of Atlanta Motel v. GeorgiaKatzenbach v. McClung

Desegregation - Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States, 1964

Heart of Atlanta Motel

Heart of Atlanta Hotel. Georgia State University, Special Collections of the University Library

Selected Case Files

Docket Sheet

Bench Memorandum

Memorandum from Justice Douglas to the Court regarding issues in case

Note from Justice Clark to the Chief Justice about timing of decision

Justice Clark's first draft of opinion

Letter from Justice White commenting on draft opinion

Letter from Justice Brennan commenting on draft opinion

Justice Clark's draft opinion

Draft concurrence of Justice Goldberg that was later withdrawn

Letter from Jack Todd congratulating Justice Clark on decision


This case was an important early test of the constitutionality of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. One of the provisions of the Act forbids racial discrimination in public facilities engaged in interstate commerce. The Heart of Atlanta Motel in Atlanta, Georgia, refused to accept black customers in violation of the Act. The owners of the motel challenged the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by filing suit against the government in federal court arguing that by passing the Act, Congress exceeded its Commerce Clause powers to regulate interstate commerce. The Supreme Court held that Congress acted within its powers to regulate interstate commerce when passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and so upheld the validity of this portion of the Act.

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