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Following the end of the Civil War, the 39th Congress met to consider legislative proposals that would grant to Blacks the same civil rights and statutory guarantees then afforded to whites. To that end, the 39th Congress passed two Constitutional amendments, several civil rights bills, and a series of enforcement acts. In the process, Congress made clear in its debates that the federal government would have an expanded role in the domain of civil rights protection and enforcement of Constitutional mandates. The United States Supreme Court, in considering the federal government’s authority, failed to acknowledge the intent of Congress in this respect. This article argues that the failure of the Court to recognize and apply this intent significantly impeded the development of civil rights for Blacks and encouraged a disregard for equal enforcement of Constitutional guarantees that continues, in part, to the present.
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