Has there been any prosecutions under Civil Rights Act of 1866?

The bolded sections (mine for emphasis) seem overly broad and could criminalize any subsequent state action later ruled unconstitutional. Has this act been repealed, or just supplanted by the 14th amendment, which does not criminalize anything?

Any examples of cases prosecuted under this Statute?

41 Hastings L.J. 1135 has a good summary of the law.

It is still valid law and it was held as constitutional in 1872 in the case of Blyew v. United States.

I don’t see anything controversial about that law. All it says is that black people have the same legal rights as white people, which is still true. And it says that laws can’t have special punishments for former slaves, which was a reasonable law at the time and is a moot issue now.

It extends to all natural borns, and it criminalizes actions otherwise reversible under the 14th amendment. With that, it seems like every act declared unconstitutional in a case like Doe v. MN would declare the state actor guilty of a misdemeanor.


“Doe v. MN” returns one hit in Google and that’s this thread. Why not link to the case you’re referring to and explain exactly what it’s connection is?

He might be referring to Doe v Gomez (542 N.W.2d 17) which was decided by the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1995. It was a controversial decision involving abortion.

I decided I don’t want to get into another debate over issues like race and/or abortion.

No it’s just a generic case name I made up. I’m trying to say that, under that statute, every case in which a state is found to have deprived a citizen of a constitutional protection also involves the state official as guilty of a misdemeanor.

Does this statute kick in at the end of a decision declaring an unconstitutional practice?

I agree with the OP that section 2 is so poorly formulated that it can apply to any denial of any constitutional right afforded to anyone. It’s clear that the intent was to protect people from racial discrimination, but that’s not all it says.

If you look closely, section 2 mentions race only in “than is prescribed for the punishment of white persons”. If it starts with “than”, then it must complement the mention of “different punishment, pains, or penalties”, which means that whatever came before that in the sentence is not subject to it.

So any person A denying any person B “any right secured or protected by this act” (which can mean “all the stuff enumerated in the previous paragraph”) is guilty of a misdemeanor.

The Civil Rights Act of 1866 was repassed with different wording after the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, which placed it on a firmer constituional footing. It survives in the federal criminal code today as 18 U.S.C. 242:

This is most certainly active law and was the basis for the indictment, in 1994, of four California police officers (and conviction of two) for “violating the civil rights” of Rodney King.