The arguments presented to the Supreme Court of the United States in Plessy v. Ferguson
involve two competing amendments to the Constitution. The 14th Amendment says states may not deny people equal protection of the law
and the 10th Amendment reserves broad, undefined powers (often referred
to as police powers) for the states.
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.
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
Plessy argued that by restricting him to a separate train car, the
State of Louisiana violated his 14th Amendment rights. However,
the State of Louisiana countered that it had the power under the 10th Amendment to create laws that preserve order and public peace.
Explain the two positions.