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Landmark Cases of the U.S. Supreme Court

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Fourteenth Amendment vs. Tenth Amendment: Federalism

The arguments presented to the Supreme Court of the United States in Plessy v. Ferguson involve two competing amendments to the Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment says states may not deny people equal protection of the law and the Tenth Amendment reserves broad, undefined powers (often referred to as police powers) for the states.

Fourteenth Amendment
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Tenth Amendment
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Plessy argued that by restricting him to a separate train car, the State of Louisiana violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights. However, the State of Louisiana countered that it had the power under the Tenth Amendment to create laws that preserve order and public peace.

Explain the two positions.

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