"In 1883, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1875, the one federal law forcing Whites to comply with the provisions of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments- awarding voting and legal rights to Blacks- could be enforced only under the most rare circumstances. Civil rights was a local, not federal issue, the court found.
The effect was to open the floodgates for laws throughout the South specifically aimed at eliminating those new rights for former slaves and their descendants. Justice John Marshall Harlan, the only member of the court to oppose the opinion, publicly worried that the amendments representing the ideals of equality and freedom articulated by Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address, as well as the arching moral justification for the carnage of the Civil War, had been renounced." From, "Slavery By Another Name" By: Douglas A. Blackmon