Amdt14.S1.9.5 Housing

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. Warley1 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

Footnotes

  1.  245 U.S. 60 (1917). See also Harmon v. Tyler, 273 U.S. 668 (1927); Richmond v. Deans, 281 U.S. 704 (1930).
  2.  Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1 (1948); Hurd v. Hodge, 334 U.S. 24 (1948); Barrows v. Jackson, 346 U.S. 249 (1953). Cf. Corrigan v. Buckley, 271 U.S. 323 (1926).
  3.  387 U.S. 369 (1967).
  4.  James v. Valtierra, 402 U.S. 137 (1971). The Court did not perceive that either on its face or as applied the provision was other than racially neutral. Justices Marshall, Brennan, and Blackmun dissented. Id. at 143.
  5.  Civil Rights Act of 1866, 14 Stat. 27, 42 U.S.C. § 1982, see Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co., 392 U.S. 409 (1968), and Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (the Fair Housing Act), 82 Stat. 73, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.
  6.  See Hills v. Gautreaux, 425 U.S. 284 (1976).