Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Buchanan v. Warley 1 invalidated an ordinance that prohibited
colored people from occupying houses in blocks where the greater number of houses were occupied by any
white person and that prohibited
white people from living on blocks where the greater number of houses were occupied by
colored people. Although racially restrictive covenants do not themselves violate the Equal Protection Clause, the judicial enforcement of them, either by injunctive relief or through entertaining damage actions, does. 2 Referendum passage of a constitutional amendment repealing a
fair housing law and prohibiting further state or local action in that direction was held unconstitutional in Reitman v. Mulkey, 3 though on somewhat ambiguous grounds, whereas a state constitutional requirement that decisions of local authorities to build low-rent housing projects in an area must first be submitted to referendum, although other similar decisions were not so limited, was found not to violate the Equal Protection Clause. 4 Private racial discrimination in the sale or rental of housing is subject to two federal laws prohibiting most such discrimination. 5 Provision of publicly assisted housing, of course, must be on a nondiscriminatory basis. 6
separate but equal doctrine won Supreme Court endorsement in the transportation context, 7 and its passing in the education field did not long predate its demise in transportation as well. 8 During the interval, the Court held invalid a state statute that permitted carriers to provide sleeping and dining cars for white persons only, 9 held that a carrier’s provision of unequal, or nonexistent, first class accommodations to African Americans violated the Interstate Commerce Act, 10 and voided both state-required and privately imposed segregation of the races on interstate carriers as burdens on commerce. 11 Boynton v. Virginia 12 voided a trespass conviction of an interstate African American bus passenger who had refused to leave a restaurant that the Court viewed as an integral part of the facilities devoted to interstate commerce and therefore subject to the Interstate Commerce Act.
In the aftermath of Brown v. Board of Education, the Court, in a lengthy series of per curiam opinions, established the invalidity of segregation in publicly provided or supported facilities and of required segregation in any facility or function. 13 A municipality could not operate a racially segregated park pursuant to a will that left the property for that purpose and that specified that only white people could use the park, 14 but it was permissible for the state courts to hold that the trust had failed and to imply a reverter to the decedent’s heirs. 15 A municipality under court order to desegregate its publicly owned swimming pools was held to be entitled to close the pools instead, so long as it entirely ceased operation of them. 16