Brief Fact Summary. The state of California passed Proposition 14 preventing the government from interfering in any case of private discrimination as it related to the ownership or possession of property. The Respondents, Mr. and Mrs. Mulkey (Respondents), sued the Petitioner, Reitman (Petitioner), under sections 51 and 52 of the California code for refusing to rent them an apartment due to their race.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. State action will exist when the purpose of state legislation is to encourage racial discrimination.
Reitman looked to the immediate objective of the statute, its ultimate effect and its historical context and the conditions existing prior to its enactment.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Did Proposition 14 invalidly involve the state in racial discriminations in the housing market?
Held. Yes. The Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) affirms the holding of the California Supreme Court.
This provision would involve the state in private racial discriminations to an unconstitutional degree. The right to discriminate was now immune from state regulation at any level and was, therefore, endorsed by the state.
The Supreme Court observed that California, by abandoning its open housing statutes in favor of a supposed position of neutrality, the state has encouraged private discrimination.
Dissent. Proposition 14 does not foster discrimination, as it is neutral on its face. The judiciary should not take it upon itself to strike down a rule that was passed by the voters without “pervasive evidence of an invidious purpose or effect.” The majority’s decision is constitutionally unsound.
Discussion. This legislation went beyond just repealing existing anti-discrimination laws. The effect was to make private housing discrimination untouchable by the state government. As a result, the state is actually encouraging such activity to take p