Vanderbilt Law Review


J. D. Hyman

First Page



Sociologists have rejected the old concept, enshrined in William Graham Sumner's Folkways, published in 1906, that law must come from the mores, and cannot go beyond them. It is now generally accepted that legal action, within limits, can influence ways of living. Dramatic demonstrations of the validity of the present concepts have been furnished by the extension of negro suffrage in the South and by the enlargement of federal protection of bodily security under the drive of Supreme Court decisions broadening the reach of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. Equally important are the current steps to destroy the pattern of second-class education for negroes, whether they are to be limited to rigorous insistence on equality in educational facilities or enlarged to upset the entire concept of segregation. The commerce clause has proved an effective tool for breaking down the barriers of discrimination and segregation in interstate transportation, and it appears to be adequate for this purpose in the case of employment. It has been suggested here that the possibility exists for effective action in other areas. The possibility should not be foreclosed by a return to a grudging, restrictive interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment.