Brief Fact Summary. The Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) held that judicial enforcement by state courts of restrictive covenants not allowing African Americans to live in certain residential areas was a denial of the challengers’ equal protection rights.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Restrictive covenants standing alone cannot be regarded as violative of any rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution). However, where, as here, the purposes of the agreements and the restrictive terms of the agreements were secured only by judicial enforcement by state courts, such state action results in a violation of equal protection.
Facts. These cases were successful challenges to judicial enforcement of the practice of restrictive covenants among property owners to exclude persons of designated races. The Petitioners in these cases were African Americans who had purchased homes from white owners despite the racially restrictive covenants. Respondents, owners of other properties subject to the terms of the covenants, sued to enjoin the black purchasers from occupying the property. The state courts granted relief.
Issue. Whether the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the constitution inhibits judicial enforcement by state courts of restrictive covenants based on race or color?