Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co.
Argued April 1–2, 1968
Decided June 17, 1968
Full case nameJoseph Lee Jones et ux. v. Alfred H. Mayer Co. et al.
Citations392 U.S. 409 (more)
88 S. Ct. 2186; 20 L. Ed. 2d 1189; 1968 U.S. LEXIS 2980; 1 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) ¶ 9832; 47 Ohio Op. 2d 43
Case history
PriorCertiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
The Thirteenth Amendment allows Congress to regulate the sale of private property to prevent racial discrimination, as such racial discrimination is a badge of slavery.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Earl Warren
Associate Justices
Hugo Black · William O. Douglas
John M. Harlan II · William J. Brennan Jr.
Potter Stewart · Byron White
Abe Fortas · Thurgood Marshall
Case opinions
MajorityStewart, joined by Warren, Black, Douglas, Brennan, Fortas, Marshall
DissentHarlan, joined by White
Laws applied
42 U.S.C. § 1982
This case overturned a previous ruling or rulings
Hodges v. United States, 203 U.S. 1 (1906),[1] & Civil Rights Cases, 109 U.S. 3 (1883) (in part)

Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co., 392 U.S. 409 (1968), is a landmark United States Supreme Court case, which held that Congress could regulate the sale of private property to prevent racial discrimination: "[42 U.S.C. § 1982] bars all racial discrimination, private as well as public, in the sale or rental of property, and that the statute, thus construed, is a valid exercise of the power of Congress to enforce the Thirteenth Amendment."[1]

The Civil Rights Act of 1866 (passed by Congress over the veto of Andrew Johnson) provided the basis for this decision as embodied by 42 U.S.C. § 1982.

Reversing many precedents, the Supreme Court held that the Civil Rights Act of 1866 prohibited both private and state-backed discrimination and that the 13th Amendment authorized Congress to prohibit private acts of discrimination as among "the badges and incidents of slavery." Congress possessed the power to "determine what are the badges and incidents of slavery, and the authority to translate that determination into effective legislation."

See also


  1. ^ "Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co. 392 U.S. 409 (1968)". Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School. Retrieved 22 October 2015. Syllabus: "[T]he badges and incidents of slavery that the Thirteenth Amendment empowered Congress to eliminate included restraints upon those fundamental rights which are the essence of civil freedom, namely, the same right... to inherit, purchase, lease, sell and convey property, as is enjoyed by white citizens. Civil Rights Cases, 09 U.S. 3, 22. Insofar as Hodges v. United States, 203 U.S. 1, suggests a contrary holding, it is overruled." Footnote 78: "[W]e note that the entire Court [in the Civil Rights Cases; content added] agreed upon at least one proposition: the Thirteenth Amendment authorizes Congress not only to outlaw all forms of slavery and involuntary servitude, but also to eradicate the last vestiges and incidents of a society half slave and half free by securing to all citizens, of every race and color, the same right to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give evidence, and to inherit, purchase, lease, sell and convey property, as is enjoyed by white citizens.... The conclusion of the majority in Hodges rested upon a concept of congressional power under the Thirteenth Amendment irreconcilable with the position taken by every member of this Court in the Civil Rights Cases and incompatible with the history and purpose of the Amendment itself. Insofar as Hodges is inconsistent with our holding today, it is hereby overruled."

Further reading