Although many slaves were branded, the so called badges of slavery were not physical markings but the legal disabilities under which slaves suffered. The la considered them things rather than persons. Slaves could not vote, serve on juries, speak in public, enter contracts, own property, or even read and write.
The Thirteenth Amendment, which bans slavery and involuntary servitude, empowered Congress to eliminate these legal disabilities. Immediately after the Civil War Congress undertook to do so in several civil rights acts, granting equal rights to the former slaves to enter contracts, own property, and the like, But in 1883, in the Civil Rights Cases, the Court struck down the first federal public accommodations law, guaranteeing equal access to restaurants, hotels and theaters.
Justice Joseph P. Bradley said that private “discrimination on account of race or color [cannot be] regarded as a badges of slavery and that therefore Congress had no power under the Thirteenth Amendment to directly ban private ats of racial discrimination.
The Court ultimately reversed itself eighty five years later. In Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer, Co., the Court said that under the Thirteenth Amendment Congress can regulate private activity to eliminate the vestiges of slavery. It upheld a law barring private acts of racial discrimination in the sale of real estate.