Read the summary of Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States in Chapter 2 and answer the following questions.
“One need only examine the evidence which we have discussed … to see that Congress may … prohibit racial discrimination by motels serving travelers, however ‘local’ their operations may appear.”
The Heart of Atlanta Motel, which was located in the state of Georgia, had 216 rooms available to guests. The motel was readily accessible to motorists using U.S. interstate highways 75 and 85 and Georgia state highways 23 and 41. The motel solicited patronage from outside the state of Georgia through various national advertising media, including magazines of national circulation. Approximately 75 percent of the motel’s registered guests were from out of state. The Heart of Atlanta Motel refused to rent rooms to blacks.
Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made it illegal for motels, hotels, and other public accommodations to discriminate against guests based on their race. After the act was passed, the Heart of Atlanta Motel continued to refuse to rent rooms to blacks. The owner-operator of the motel brought a declaratory relief action in U.S. district court, Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States, to have the Civil Rights Act of 1964 declared unconstitutional. The plaintiff argued that Congress, in passing the act, had exceeded its powers to regulate interstate commerce under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The U.S. Supreme Court held that the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibited discrimination in accommodations properly regulated interstate commerce. In reaching its decision, the U.S. Supreme Court stated:
The U.S. Supreme Court held that the challenged provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were constitutional as a proper exercise of the commerce power of the federal government. Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States, 379 U.S. 241, 85 S.Ct. 348, 13 L.Ed.2d 258, Web 1964 U.S. Lexis 2187 (Supreme Court of the United States)