305 U.S. 337 (1938), 57, Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada

Docket Nº:No. 57
Citation:305 U.S. 337, 59 S.Ct. 232, 83 L.Ed. 208
Party Name:Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada
Case Date:December 12, 1938
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 337

305 U.S. 337 (1938)

59 S.Ct. 232, 83 L.Ed. 208

Missouri ex rel. Gaines

v.

Canada

No. 57

United States Supreme Court

Dec. 12, 1938

Argued November 9, 1938

CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF MISSOURI

Syllabus

1. The State of Missouri provides separate schools and universities for whites and negroes. At the state university, attended by whites, there is a course in law; at the Lincoln University, attended by negroes, there is as yet none, but it is the duty of the curators of that institution to establish one there whenever in their opinion this shall be necessary and practicable, and pending such development, they are authorized to arrange for legal education of Missouri negroes, and to pay the tuition charges therefor, at law schools in adjacent States where negroes are accepted and where the training is equal to that obtainable at the Missouri State University. Pursuant to the State's policy of separating the races in its educational institutions, the curators of the state university refused to admit a negro as a student in the law school there because of his race; whereupon he sought a mandamus, in the state courts, which was denied.

Held:

(1) That inasmuch as the curators of the state university represented the State, in carrying out its policy, their action in denying the negro admission to the law school was state action within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. P. 343.

(2) The action of the State in furnishing legal education within the State to whites while not furnishing legal education within the State to negroes was a discrimination repugnant to the Fourteenth Amendment. P. 344.

If a State furnishes higher education to white residents, it is bound to furnish substantially equal advantages to negro residents, though not necessarily in the same schools.

(3) The unconstitutional discrimination is not avoided by the purpose of the State to establish a law school for negroes whenever necessary and practicable in the opinion of the curators of the University provided for negroes. P. 346.

(4) Nor are the requirements of the equal protection clause satisfied by the opportunities afforded by Missouri to its negro citizens for legal education in other States. P. 348.

The basic consideration here is not as to what sort of opportunities other States provide, or whether they are as good as those

Page 338

in Missouri, but as to what opportunities Missouri itself furnishes to white students and denies to negroes solely upon the ground of color. The admissibility of laws separating the races in the enjoyment of privileges afforded by the State rests wholly upon the equality of the privileges which the laws give to the separated groups within the State. By the operation of the laws of Missouri, a privilege has been created for white law students which is denied to negroes by reason of their race. The white resident is afforded legal education within the State; the negro resident having the same qualifications is refused it there, and must go outside the State to obtain it. That is a denial of the equality of legal right to the enjoyment of the privilege which the State has set up, and the provision for the payment of tuition fees in another State does not remove the discrimination. P. 348.

(5) The obligation of the State to give the protection of equal laws can be performed only where its laws operate, that is, within its own jurisdiction. It is there that the equality of legal right must be maintained. That obligation is imposed by the Constitution upon the States severally as governmental entities each responsible for its own laws establishing the rights and duties of persons within its borders. P. 350.

(6) The fact that there is but a limited demand in Missouri for the legal education of negroes does not excuse the discrimination in favor of whites. P. 350.

(7) Inasmuch as the discrimination may last indefinitely -- so long as the curators find it unnecessary and impracticable to provide facilities for the legal education of negroes within the State, the alternative of attendance at law schools in other States being provided meanwhile -- it cannot be excused as a temporary discrimination. P. 351.

2. The state court decided this case upon the merits of the federal question, and not upon the propriety of remedy by mandamus. P. 352.

342 Mo. 121; 113 S.W.2d 783, reversed.

CERTIORARI, post, p. 580, to review a judgment affirming denial of a writ of mandamus.

Page 342

HUGHES, J., lead opinion

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE HUGHES delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner Lloyd Gaines, a negro, was refused admission to the School of Law at the State University of Missouri. Asserting that this refusal constituted a denial by the State of the equal protection of the laws in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Federal Constitution, petitioner brought this action for mandamus to compel the curators of the University to admit him. On final hearing, an alternative writ was quashed and a peremptory writ was denied by the Circuit Court. The Supreme Court of the State affirmed the judgment. 113 S.W.2d 783. We granted certiorari, October 10, 1938.

Petitioner is a citizen of Missouri. In August, 1935, he was graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Arts at the Lincoln University, an institution maintained by the State of Missouri for the higher education of negroes. That University has no law school. Upon the filing of his application for admission to the law school of the University of Missouri, the registrar advised him to communicate with the president of Lincoln University, and the latter directed petitioner's attention to § 9622 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri (1929), providing as follows:

Sec. 9622. May arrange for attendance at university of any adjacent state -- Tuition fees. -- Pending the full development of the Lincoln university, the board of

Page 343

curators shall have the authority to arrange for the attendance of negro residents of the state of Missouri at the university of any adjacent state to take any course or to study any subjects provided for at the state university of Missouri, and which are not taught at the Lincoln university and to pay the reasonable tuition fees for such attendance; provided that, whenever the board of curators deem it advisable, they shall have the power to open any necessary school or department. (Laws 1921, p. 86, § 7.)

Petitioner was advised to apply to the State Superintendent of Schools for aid under that statute. It was admitted on the trial that petitioner's

work and credits at the Lincoln University would qualify him for admission to the School of Law of the University of Missouri if he were found otherwise eligible.

He was refused admission upon the ground that it was "contrary to the constitution, laws and public policy of the State to admit a negro as a student in the University of Missouri." It appears that there are schools of law in connection with the state universities of four adjacent States, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois, where nonresident negroes are admitted.

[59 S.Ct. 234] The clear and definite conclusions of the state court in construing the pertinent state legislation narrow the issue. The action of the curators, who are representatives of the State in the management of the state university (R.S.Mo. § 9625), must be regarded as state action.1 The state constitution provides that separate free public schools shall be established for the education of children of African descent (Art. XI, § 3), and, by statute, separate high school facilities are supplied for colored students equal to those provided for white students (R.S.Mo.

Page 344

§§ 9346-9349). While there is no express constitutional provision requiring that the white and negro races be separated for the purpose of higher education, the state court, on a comprehensive review of the state statutes, held that it was intended to separate the white and negro races for that purpose also. Referring in particular to Lincoln University, the court deemed it to be clear

that the Legislature intended to bring the Lincoln University up to the standard of the University of Missouri, and give to the whites and negroes an equal opportunity for higher education -- the whites at the University of Missouri, and the negroes at Lincoln University.

Further, the court concluded that the provisions of § 9622 (above-quoted) to the effect that negro residents "may attend the university of any adjacent State with their tuition paid, pending the full development of Lincoln University," made it evident "that the Legislature did not intend that negroes and whites should attend the same university in this State." In that view, it necessarily followed that the curators of the University of Missouri acted in accordance with the policy of the State in denying petitioner admission to its School of Law upon the sole ground of his race.

In answering petitioner's contention that this discrimination constituted a denial of his constitutional right, the state court has fully recognized the obligation of the State to provide negroes with advantages for higher education substantially equal to the advantages afforded to white students. The State has sought to fulfill that obligation by furnishing equal facilities in separate schools, a method the validity of which has been sustained by our decisions. Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537, 544; McCabe v. Atchison, T. & S.F. Ry. Co., 235 U.S. 151, 160; Gong Lum v. Rice, 275 U.S. 78, 85, 86. Compare Cumming v. Board of Education, 175 U.S. 528, 544, 545. Respondents' counsel have appropriately emphasized the special

Page 345

solicitude of the State for the higher education of negroes as shown in the establishment of Lincoln University, a state institution well conducted on a plane with the University of Missouri so far as the offered courses are concerned. It is said that Missouri is a...

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238 practice notes
  • 64 F.Supp. 544 (S.D.Cal. 1946), C. A. 4292, Mendez v. Westminister School Dist. of Orange County
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 9th Circuit Southern District of California
    • 18 February 1946
    ...the education of its citizens and inhabitants would justify the Federal Court to intervene. State of Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, 305 U.S. 337, 59 S.Ct. 232, 83 L.Ed. 208. The complaint before us in this action, having alleged an invasion by the common school authorities of the defend......
  • 119 N.W.2d 557 (Mich. 1963), 66, McKibbin v. Michigan Corp. and Securities Commission
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court of Michigan
    • 6 February 1963
    ...public school segregation cases struck down racial discrimination practiced by the states themselves. Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, 305 U.S. 337, 59 S.Ct. 232, 83 L.Ed. 208; Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas, 347 U.S. 483, 74 S.Ct. 686, 98 L.Ed. 873; and Coo......
  • 147 N.W.2d 358 (Minn. 1966), 40477, Minneapolis Fed. of Teachers Local 59 v. Obermeyer
    • United States
    • Minnesota Supreme Court of Minnesota
    • 9 December 1966
    ...or services for its people, if it chooses to do so it must do so on an equal basis for all of them. Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, 305 U.S. 337, 59 S.Ct. 232, 83 L.Ed. 208; McCabe v. Atchison, T. & S.F. Ry. Co., 235 U.S. 151, 161, 35 S.Ct. 69, 71, 59 L.Ed. 169, 174. As stated in Qua......
  • 475 P.2d 109 (Wash. 1970), 40222, State v. Zornes
    • United States
    • Washington Supreme Court of Washington
    • 14 May 1970
    ...race or nationality for oppressive treatment. Yick Wo. v. Hopkins, oppressive treatment. Yick Wo v. Hopkins, Page 120 Gaines v. Canada, 305 U.S. 337, 59 S.Ct. 232, 83 L.Ed. 208. It is manifest that RCW 69.33.410 and 69.40.070, as they stood prior to the 1969 amendments, prescribed different......
  • Free signup to view additional results
194 cases
  • 64 F.Supp. 544 (S.D.Cal. 1946), C. A. 4292, Mendez v. Westminister School Dist. of Orange County
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 9th Circuit Southern District of California
    • 18 February 1946
    ...the education of its citizens and inhabitants would justify the Federal Court to intervene. State of Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, 305 U.S. 337, 59 S.Ct. 232, 83 L.Ed. 208. The complaint before us in this action, having alleged an invasion by the common school authorities of the defend......
  • 119 N.W.2d 557 (Mich. 1963), 66, McKibbin v. Michigan Corp. and Securities Commission
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court of Michigan
    • 6 February 1963
    ...public school segregation cases struck down racial discrimination practiced by the states themselves. Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, 305 U.S. 337, 59 S.Ct. 232, 83 L.Ed. 208; Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas, 347 U.S. 483, 74 S.Ct. 686, 98 L.Ed. 873; and Coo......
  • 147 N.W.2d 358 (Minn. 1966), 40477, Minneapolis Fed. of Teachers Local 59 v. Obermeyer
    • United States
    • Minnesota Supreme Court of Minnesota
    • 9 December 1966
    ...or services for its people, if it chooses to do so it must do so on an equal basis for all of them. Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, 305 U.S. 337, 59 S.Ct. 232, 83 L.Ed. 208; McCabe v. Atchison, T. & S.F. Ry. Co., 235 U.S. 151, 161, 35 S.Ct. 69, 71, 59 L.Ed. 169, 174. As stated in Qua......
  • 475 P.2d 109 (Wash. 1970), 40222, State v. Zornes
    • United States
    • Washington Supreme Court of Washington
    • 14 May 1970
    ...race or nationality for oppressive treatment. Yick Wo. v. Hopkins, oppressive treatment. Yick Wo v. Hopkins, Page 120 Gaines v. Canada, 305 U.S. 337, 59 S.Ct. 232, 83 L.Ed. 208. It is manifest that RCW 69.33.410 and 69.40.070, as they stood prior to the 1969 amendments, prescribed different......
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42 books & journal articles
  • Material Causes of the Five Eras of American Law
    • United States
    • The Path of Constitutional Law Part II: The Form Or Shape Of Constitutional Law
    • 1 January 2007
    ...v. Family Security Life Ins. Co., 336 U.S. 220 (1949) (entry conditions on business). [64] See, e.g., Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, 305 U.S. 337 (1938); Sweatt v. Painter, 339 U.S. 626 (1950); McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents, 339 U.S. 637 (1950). [65] Korematsu v. United States, 323......
  • Colleges and Universities
    • United States
    • West's Encyclopedia of American Law Be
    • 1 January 2005
    ...tuition payments to out-of-state law schools rather than permitting them to attend an in-state school (Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, 305 U.S. 337, 59 S. Ct. 232, 83 L. Ed. 208 [1938]). Next, in McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents, 339 U.S. 637, 70 S. Ct. 851, 94 L. Ed. 1149 (1950), the ......
  • The common law genius of the Warren Court.
    • United States
    • William and Mary Law Review Vol. 49 Nbr. 3, December 2007
    • 1 December 2007
    ...at 161. (83.) Id. (84.) Id. at 161-62. (85.) 245 U.S. 60 (1917). (86.) Id. at 69-70. (87.) Id. at 78-79, 81-82. (88.) Id. at 74-75. (89.) 305 U.S. 337, 342 (1938). (90.) Id. (91.) Id. at 342-43. (92.) See id. at 349-51. (93.) See id. at 348-49. (94.) Id. at 349. (95.) Id. at 349-50. (96.) I......
  • Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas
    • United States
    • West's Encyclopedia of American Law Milestones in the Law
    • 1 January 2005
    ...in those cases dealing with racial distinctions in education at the graduate and professional levels. Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, 305 U.S. 337; Sipuel v. Board of Education, supra; Fisher v. Hurst, 333 U.S. 147; Sweatt v. Painter, supra; McLaurin v. Board of Regents, supra. In the Mc......
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