Heart of Atlanta/Pickrick trial


In 1964, two Atlanta business owners captured national attention when they refused to comply with the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Moreton Rolleston and Lester Maddox, owners of the Heart of Atlanta Motel and the Pickrick Restaurant respectively, sued to challenge the constitutionality of Section II of the Civil Rights Act, which barred segregation in all public accommodations on the basis that the practice inhibited the interstate movements of people and products. The cases were paired and tried before a three-judge circuit court in Atlanta, which upheld the law and ordered both men to admit black patrons within twenty days. Maddox?s decision to close the Pickrick rather than submit to integration earned him the admiration many white Georgians, and paved his way to victory in the state's 1966 gubernatorial contest. Rolleston meanwhile appealed his decision to the Supreme Court (Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States), which unanimously upheld the lower court's decision.

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