About | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline

6 Law. Guild Rev. 599 (1946)
The Implications of the Irene Morgan Decision

handle is hein.journals/guild6 and id is 213 raw text is: LAWYERS GUILD REVIEW

Benjamin Algase
Recent Items Editor                Notes Editor
Carol King                  Jerome Hellerstein
Associate Editors

Leonard B. Boudin
Eugene Cotton
Earl B. Dickerson
Harold Dublirer
Osmond K. Fraenkel

Mitchell Franklin
Richard Gladstein
Charles H. Houston
Morton L. Leavy
Thurgood Marshall

Nathan Greene
Current Books
Abraham Porter
Basil N. Bass
Carey. McWilliams
James J. Morrison
Martin Popper
Paul L. Ross
David Scribner

Review Notes
The Implications of the Irene Morgan Decision

On June 3, 1946, the United States Supreme Court
in the case of Morgan vs. Commonwealth of Virginia
held invalid a Virginia statute requiring the separation
of the races on motor vehicle common carriers, which,
as construed by the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals,
applied to interstate as well as intrastate travel. Since
this decision is considered one of the most significant
legal victories in the fight to end segregation, it is im-
portant that its extent and limit§ be clearly understood.
The facts are these: Mrs. .Morgan, a Negro, was
traveling from Glouster County, Virginia to Baltimore,
Maryland on a bus containing both Negro and white
passengers. Mrs. Morgan was asked by the driver of
the bus to move from a seat she was occupying about
midway the bus to a rear seat partly occupied by other
colored passengers in order that the seat vacated could
be used by white passengers. On her refusal, a warrant
was obtained and Mrs. Morgan was arrested and con-
victed of a violation of the Virginia Code requiring the
separation of the races on motor common carriers' and
making any violation of this requirement a misde-
meanor.2 In the trial court and on appeal it was con-
tended that these provisions of the Virginia Code as
applied to Mrs. Morgan constituted a violation of the
1. Virginia Code of 1942, Sections 4097 z to 4097 dd.
2. 4097 dd, Violation by passengers; misdemeanor; ejec-
tion.-All persons who fail while on any motor vehicle carrier,
to take and occupy the seat or seats or other space assigned to
them by the driver, operator or other person in charge of such
vehicle, or by the person whose duty it is to take up tickets or
collect fares from passengers therein, or who fail to obey the
directions of any such driver, operator or other person in charge,
as aforesaid, to change their seats from time to time as occa-
sions require, pursuant to any lawful rule, regulation or custom
in force by such lines as to assigning separate seats or other
s ace to white and colored persons, respectively, having been
frst advised of the fact of such regulation and requested to con-
form thereto, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon
conviction thereof shall be fined not less than five dollars nor
more than twenty-five dollars for each offense. Furthermore,
such persons may be ejected from such vehicle by any driver,

commerce clause of the Federal Constitution since she
was a passenger in interstate commerce. The Supreme
Court of Appeals of Virginia affirmed the conviction
and construed the statute as applicable to both intrastate
and interstate passengers.'
The United States Supreme Court, in reversing, de-
clared the statute invalid as an undue burden on and
interference with commerce as proscribed under the
commerce clause. It held that such local statutes re-
quiring the movement of interstate passengers on motor
vehicle common carriers in accordance with local rather
than national requirements gave rise to a burden directly
impairing the usefulness of the facilities of.interstate
commerce. Emphasis was placed on the conflicting and
diverse requirements which the several states might and
had imposed because of differing notions of racial policy.'
operator or person in charge of said vehicle, or by any police
officer or other conservator of the peace; and in case such per-
sons ejected shall have paid their fares upon said vehicle, they
shall not be entitled to the return of any part of same. For the
refusal of any such passenger to abide by the request of the
person in charge of said vehicle as aforesaid, and his consequent
ejection from said vehicle, neither the driver, operator, person
in charge, owner, manager nor bus company operating said
vehicle shall be liable for damages in any court.
3. Moran v. Commontwealth, 184 Va. 24 (1944).
4. Legislation affecting these questions is widespread and
diverse in language and construction. Eighteen states have
adopted civil rights statutes prohibiting segregation in public
carriers. Cal. Civ. Code (Deering), 1941, Sec. 51-54; Colo.
Stats., 1935, Ch. 35, Sec. 1-10; Conn. Gen. Stat. (Supp. 1933),
Sec. 1160b; Ill. Rev. Stat., 1941, Ch. 38, See. 125-128g; Ind.
Stat. (Burns) 1933, Sees. 10-901, 10-902; Iowa Code, 1939, Sec.
13251-1 252; kan. Gen. Stat 1935, Sec. 21-2424; Mass. Laws
(Michic), 1933 Chap. 272, Sec. 98, as amended 1934; Mich.
Camp. Laws (§upp. 1933), Sees. 17, 115-146 to 147; Minn. Stat.
(Mason), 1927, Sec. 7321; Neb. Comp. Stat., 1929, Ch. 23, Art.
1; N. J. Rev. Stat., 1937, Secs. 10:1-1 to 10:1-9; N. Y. Laws
( Thompson), 1937, (1942, 1943, 1944 Supp.), Ch. 6, Sec. 40-42;
hio Code (Throckmorton), 1933, Sec. 12940-12941; Pa. Stat.
(Purdon), Tit. 18, Sees. 1211, 4653 to 4655; R. I. Gen. Laws,
1938, Ch. 606, Sec. 27-28, Ch. 612, Sec. 47-48; Wash. Rev. Stat.
(Remington), 1932, Sec. 2686; Wis. Stat., 1941, Sec. 340.75.
See also Me. Rev. Stat, 1930, Ch. 134, Sec. 7-10; N. H. Rev.
Laws, 1942, Ch. 208, Sees. 3-4, 6. Other states have laws re-
quiring segregation on railroads, Ala. Code, 1940, Tit. 48, Sec.

What Is HeinOnline?

HeinOnline is a subscription-based resource containing thousands of academic and legal journals from inception; complete coverage of government documents such as U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Reports, and much more. Documents are image-based, fully searchable PDFs with the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database. For more information, request a quote or trial for your organization below.

Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline.

Contact us for annual subscription options:

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?

profiles profiles most