Congressional control of federal court jurisdiction and the effect on protection of civil rights
Meakin, Christopher Harry
Hyman, Harold M.
Master of Arts
The years immediately following the end of the American Civil War proved to be the high water mark in the nationalist spirit that provided for the direct federal protection of civil rights. This period was short, and as Southern patience outlasted Northern zeal, the federal government abandoned its efforts to actively enforce the spirit of the Reconstruction amendments. Even though during Reconstruction Congress greatly expanded the jurisdiction of the federal court system, the grants of jurisdiction did not help protect civil rights. Most of the statutes were civil in nature, requiring a litigant to hire a lawyer. Prospective plaintiffs in civil rights cases were unable to shoulder the expense of civil rights lawsuits so early use of the statutes was by corporations seeking to escape state regulation. Local lawyers willing to try civil rights cases faced an immense hurdle since the statutes were codified and broken up, legal journals de-emphasized these cases, and local pressure injured the attorneys' practices.
American history; Law