Washington Law Review




Plaintiffs, black citizens of Mississippi, sued in federal court under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3) alleging that defendants, white citizens of Mississippi, had conspired to deprive them of the equal protection of the laws and equal privileges and immunities under the law. Plaintiffs' claim arose out of an incident during which defendants, under the mistaken belief that a person in the company of plaintiffs was a civil rights worker, stopped plaintiffs' car on a public highway, forced them from the car and physically assaulted them. The district court dismissed the suit on the ground that section 1985(3) reached only conspiracies under color of state law, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed. On appeal the United States Supreme Court reversed. Held: section 1985(3) does reach private, racially motivated conspiracies in deprivation of the equal protection of the laws and is a legitimate exercise of congressional power under the thirteenth amendment and under Congress's power to protect the right of interstate travel. Griffin v. Breckenridge, 403 U.S. 88 (1971).

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