MITCHELL V. UNITED STATES, 313 U. S. 80 (1941)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Mitchell v. United States, 313 U.S. 80 (1941)

Mitchell v. United States

No. 577

Argued March 13, 1941

Decided April 28, 1941

313 U.S. 80


1. An order of the Interstate Commerce Commission dismissing a complaint against an interstate carrier by an individual, charging unjust and unlawful discrimination in the matter of facilities afforded him as a passenger on an interstate journey, is reviewable, though negative in form. P. 313 U. S. 92.

2. The right of a colored citizen to complain to the Interstate Commerce Commission of discrimination against him, because of his race, in the matter of facilities afforded on an interstate railroad journey, does not depend upon whether he intends to make a similar journey in the future. P. 313 U. S. 93.

3. In the case of a passenger, as in the case of a shipper, it is within the authority of the Commission to determine whether a discrimination is unjust and unlawful upon inquiry into the particular facts and the practice of the carrier in the particular relation. P. 313 U. S. 93.

4. Because of his race, a colored man who had paid a first class fare for an interstate journey, and who offered to pay the proper charge for an available seat in a Pullman car, was compelled, in accordance with custom, to leave that car and ride in a second class car, and was thus denied the standard conveniences afforded first class passengers.


(1) The discrimination was essentially unjust, and violated the Interstate Commerce Act. P. 313 U. S. 94.

(2) Paragraph 1 of § 2 of the Act, which declares it unlawful for any carrier to subject any particular person to any undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage in any respect whatsoever, applies to discrimination against colored passengers because of their race, and requires that colored persons who buy first class tickets shall be furnished with accommodations equal in comforts and conveniences to those afforded to first class white passengers. P. 313 U. S. 95.

(3) The fact that there was but one instance of discrimination in the case of the complainant affords no reason why such discrimination should not be forbidden for the future. P. 313 U. S. 96.

Page 313 U. S. 81

(4) The fact that there is comparatively little demand for first class accommodations for colored people cannot justify such discrimination. P. 313 U. S. 97.


Appeal from a decree of the District Court of three judges which dismissed for want of jurisdiction a suit to set aside an order of the Interstate Commerce Commission. 229 I.C.C. 703.

Page 313 U. S. 88

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