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Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co.

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Brief Fact Summary.

Jones, a black man, alleged that a real estate company refused to sell him a home because of his race.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Congress can regulate the sale of private property to prevent racial discrimination.

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

Section 2 provided: That any person who, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, shall subject, or cause to be subjected, any inhabitant of any State or Territory to the deprivation of any right secured or protected by this act, or to different punishment, pains, or penalties on account of such person having at any time been held in a condition of slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, or by reason of his color or race, than is prescribed for the punishment of white persons, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and, on conviction, shall be punished by fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, or imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both, in the discretion of the court.

View Full Point of Law
Facts.

Jones, a black man, alleged that a real estate company in Missouri’s St. Louis County refused to sell him a home in a certain neighborhood, solely because of his race.

Issue.

Did Defendant violate 42 U.S.C. Section 1982, which guarantees equal rights to all citizens making real estate transactions?

Held.

Yes, Defendant violated 42 U.S.C. Section 1982, which guarantees equal rights to all citizens making real estate transactions.

Dissent.

Justice Harlan

The Court’s construction of 42 U.S.C. Section 1982 is “open to the most serious doubt” if not “wholly untenable.”

Discussion.

42 U.S.C. Section 1982 was intended to prohibit all discrimination against blacks in the sale and rental of property, including not only governmental discrimination but also private discrimination. Moreover, the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery and established universal freedom, gives Congress the authority to eliminate racial barriers to the acquisition of property because they are “badges and incidents of slavery.” When racial discrimination forces certain people into ghettos and makes their ability to buy property turn on the color of their skin, that is a relic of slavery.


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