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Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Discrimination Case

The Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a case that could influence the way courts handle racial discrimination cases throughout the country. Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal explains the details of the case.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Next tonight, a discrimination case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Ray Suarez has our story.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    … case involves Hendrick Humphries, a former associate manager of a Cracker Barrel restaurant, who says he was fired because he complained about racial discrimination in his workplace. Humphries sued, and today the justices were asked to decide whether his case can go forward.

    NewsHour regular Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal was in the courtroom, and she joins us now.

    And, Marcia, when Hendrick Humphries first tried to get relief for what he alleges was discrimination, what happened in the lower courts that brought this to the high court today?

  • MARCIA COYLE, National Law Journal:

    Well, first of all, he sued under section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, one of Congress's first civil rights laws. In the trial court, he lost his claim because the court said there was no claim for retaliation under that section of the civil rights law.

    But on appeal, he won. The appellate court, like most of the appellate courts that have faced the question, whether there is a claim for retaliation under this particular law, have found that there is. So it is Cracker Barrel, his employer, who brought an appeal to the Supreme Court today.

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