Former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement and UMD History Professor Michael Ross talked about the black codes and the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments during the Reconstruction Era after the end of the Civil War.
The Supreme Court has the power to interpret the Constitution. Its rulings on cases determine the meaning of laws and acts of Congress and the president. Knowing the key decisions of the Supreme Court and the precedents they set is vital in understanding the meaning of laws, how our country has changed over time, and the direction the country is currently headed. In this lesson students will examine the Slaughterhouse Cases.
As a class, view the following videos and answer the questions below to lay the foundation for students to understand this case:
VIDEO CLIP: Reconstruction Era Background(6:04)
VIDEO CLIP: Reconstruction in New Orleans and Slaughterhouse Background (2:55)
Explain why Sen. Patrick Leahy describes the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments as part of the “second founding.”
Describe the circumstances surrounding the passing of the 14th amendment. Explain the importance of its passage as it relates to Reconstruction in the South.
Explain the view of Reconstruction and the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments by Southerners.
Describe the situation in New Orleans after the Civil War.
Students can either work independently or in groups to view the following video clips. They should take notes using the handout below:
Handout: Supreme Court Case: Slaughterhouse Cases (Google Doc)
VIDEO CLIP: Reasons for Litigation (8:30)
Describe the system of slaughterhouses and butcher shops in New Orleans in the 1860s. What were the results of this system?
How did the citizens of New Orleans seek redress from the slaughterhouses? What were the initial results?
VIDEO CLIP: Heart of the Case (3:57)
Describe the situation for butchers in New Orleans following the Slaughterhouse Act of 1869.
What was the heart of the case that the butchers took to the Louisiana courts? Describe the “opportunity” that lawyers representing the butchers saw in the wording of the 14th amendment.
VIDEO CLIP: The Decision (1:33)
Explain the arguments in the majority and dissenting opinions in the Slaughterhouse Case decision.
VIDEO CLIP: Impact and Legal Questions (2:13)
Why did the Slaughterhouse Case have to be heard twice?
Explain the four issues that are before the court.
VIDEO CLIP: Legacy (2:27)
Explain the significance of the Slaughterhouse Cases decision in relation to the 14th Amendment.
Describe the impact of the decision on the Privileges or Immunities Clause and the Bill of Rights.
As a class, discuss the significance of this case, the precedent it set, and its legacy.
Choose an activity from C-SPAN Classroom's Deliberations site to engage in a structured student-centered analysis of the case.