339 U.S. 629 (1950), 44, Sweatt v. Painter

Docket Nº:No. 44
Citation:339 U.S. 629, 70 S.Ct. 848, 94 L.Ed. 1114
Party Name:Sweatt v. Painter
Case Date:June 05, 1950
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 629

339 U.S. 629 (1950)

70 S.Ct. 848, 94 L.Ed. 1114

Sweatt

v.

Painter

No. 44

United States Supreme Court

June 5, 1950

Argued April 4, 1950

CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF TEXAS

Syllabus

Petitioner was denied admission to the state supported University of Texas Law School, solely because he is a Negro and state law forbids the admission of Negroes to that Law School. He was offered, but he refused, enrollment in a separate law school newly established by the State for Negroes. The University of Texas Law School has 16 full-time and three part-time professors, 850 students, a library of 65,000 volumes, a law review, moot court facilities, scholarship funds, an Order of the Coif affiliation, many distinguished alumni, and much tradition and prestige. The separate law school for Negroes has five full-time professors, 23 students, a library of 16,500 volumes, a practice court, a legal aid association, and one alumnus admitted to the Texas Bar, but it excludes from its student body members of racial groups which number 85% of the population of the State and which include most of the lawyers, witnesses, jurors, judges, and other officials with whom petitioner would deal as a member of the Texas Bar.

Held: The legal education offered petitioner is not substantially equal to that which he would receive if admitted to the University of Texas Law School, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires that he be admitted to the University of Texas Law School. Pp. 631-636.

Reversed.

A Texas trial court found that a newly established state law school for Negroes offered petitioner "privileges, advantages, and opportunities for the study of law substantially equivalent to those offered by the State to white students at the University of Texas," and denied mandamus to compel his admission to the University of Texas Law School. The Court of Civil Appeals affirmed. 210 S.W.2d 442. The Texas Supreme Court denied writ of error. This Court granted certiorari. 338 U.S. 865. Reversed, p. 636.

Page 631

VINSON, J., lead opinion

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

This case and McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents, post, p. 637, present different aspects of this general question: to what extent does the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment limit the power of a state to distinguish between students of different races in professional and graduate education in a state university? Broader issues have been urged for our consideration, but we adhere to the principle of deciding constitutional questions only in the context of the particular case before the Court. We have frequently reiterated that this Court will decide constitutional questions only when necessary to the disposition of the case at hand, and that such decisions will be drawn as narrowly as possible. Rescue Army v. Municipal Court, 331 U.S. 549 (1947), and cases cited therein. Because of this traditional reluctance to extend constitutional interpretations to situations or facts which are not before the Court, much of the excellent research and detailed argument presented in these cases is unnecessary to their disposition.

In the instant case, petitioner filed an application for admission to the University of Texas Law School for the February, 1946, term. His application was rejected solely because he is a Negro.1 Petitioner thereupon brought this suit for mandamus against the appropriate school officials, respondents here, to compel his admission. At that time, there was no law school in Texas which admitted Negroes.

The state trial court recognized that the action of the State in denying petitioner the opportunity to gain

Page 632

a legal education while granting it to others deprived him of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. The court did not grant the relief requested, however, but continued the case for six months to allow the State to supply substantially equal facilities. At the expiration of the six months, in December, 1946, the court denied the writ on the showing that the authorized university officials had adopted an order calling for the opening of a law school for Negroes the following February. While petitioner's appeal was pending, such a school was made available, but petitioner refused to register therein. The Texas Court of Civil Appeals set aside the trial court's judgment and ordered the cause "remanded generally to the trial court for further proceedings without prejudice to the rights of any party to this suit."

On remand, a hearing was held on the issue of the equality of the educational facilities at the newly established school as compared with the University of Texas Law School. Finding that the new school offered petitioner

privileges, advantages, and opportunities for the study of law substantially equivalent to those offered by the State to white students at the University of Texas,

the trial court denied mandamus. The Court of Civil Appeals affirmed. 210 S.W.2d 442 (1948). Petitioner's application for a writ of error was denied by the Texas Supreme Court. We granted certiorari, 338 U.S. 865 (1949), because of the manifest importance of the constitutional issues involved.

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  • 250 F.Supp. 1000 (E.D.N.Y. 1966), 65-C-1170, Olson v. Board of Ed. of Union Free School Dist. No. 12, Malverne, New York
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit Eastern District of New York
    • 11 February 1966
    ...upon a purely quantitative analysis without a consideration of the facts pertaining to each individual case. [28] Sweatt v. Painter, 1950, 339 U.S. 629, 631, 70 S.Ct. 848, 849, 94 L.Ed. 1114. [29] In the Matter of the Appeal of Patricia Ann Mitchell, et al. against the Board of Education of......
  • 14 Misc.2d 325, In re Skipwith
    • United States
    • 15 December 1958
    ...to alert the Board of Education of the City of New York to its constitutional responsibilities. At least by 1950, when Sweatt v. Painter, 339 U.S. 629, 70 S.Ct. 848, 94 L.Ed. 1114, was decided by the Supreme Page 343 Court, there was no excuse for thinking that the Fourteenth Amendment's co......
  • 185 F.2d 859 (5th Cir. 1950), 13158, City of Birmingham v. Monk
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
    • 19 December 1950
    ...Circuit Judge, dissents. Notes: [1] Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, 305 U.S. 337, 351, 59 S.Ct. 232, 83 L.Ed. 208; Sweatt v. Ainter, 339 U.S. 629, 635, 70 S.Ct. 848.emergency existed was to be overlooked or disregarded, the city should have been allowed to introduce evidence of the true ......
  • 204 F.Supp. 568 (E.D.La. 1962), Civ. A. 3630, Bush v. Orleans Parish School Bd.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 5th Circuit Eastern District of Louisiana
    • 3 April 1962
    ...had over 36 pupils, while in the Negro elementary schools 75.6 per cent of the classes had over 36 pupils. [14] See Sweatt v. Painter, 339 U.S. 629, 70 S.Ct. 848, 94 L.Ed. 1114; Wilson v. Board of Supervisors, E.D.La., 92 F.Supp. 986, affirmed, 340 U.S. 909, 71 S.Ct. 294, 95 L.Ed.'white' sc......
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175 cases
  • 250 F.Supp. 1000 (E.D.N.Y. 1966), 65-C-1170, Olson v. Board of Ed. of Union Free School Dist. No. 12, Malverne, New York
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit Eastern District of New York
    • 11 February 1966
    ...upon a purely quantitative analysis without a consideration of the facts pertaining to each individual case. [28] Sweatt v. Painter, 1950, 339 U.S. 629, 631, 70 S.Ct. 848, 849, 94 L.Ed. 1114. [29] In the Matter of the Appeal of Patricia Ann Mitchell, et al. against the Board of Education of......
  • 14 Misc.2d 325, In re Skipwith
    • United States
    • 15 December 1958
    ...to alert the Board of Education of the City of New York to its constitutional responsibilities. At least by 1950, when Sweatt v. Painter, 339 U.S. 629, 70 S.Ct. 848, 94 L.Ed. 1114, was decided by the Supreme Page 343 Court, there was no excuse for thinking that the Fourteenth Amendment's co......
  • 185 F.2d 859 (5th Cir. 1950), 13158, City of Birmingham v. Monk
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
    • 19 December 1950
    ...Circuit Judge, dissents. Notes: [1] Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, 305 U.S. 337, 351, 59 S.Ct. 232, 83 L.Ed. 208; Sweatt v. Ainter, 339 U.S. 629, 635, 70 S.Ct. 848.emergency existed was to be overlooked or disregarded, the city should have been allowed to introduce evidence of the true ......
  • 204 F.Supp. 568 (E.D.La. 1962), Civ. A. 3630, Bush v. Orleans Parish School Bd.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 5th Circuit Eastern District of Louisiana
    • 3 April 1962
    ...had over 36 pupils, while in the Negro elementary schools 75.6 per cent of the classes had over 36 pupils. [14] See Sweatt v. Painter, 339 U.S. 629, 70 S.Ct. 848, 94 L.Ed. 1114; Wilson v. Board of Supervisors, E.D.La., 92 F.Supp. 986, affirmed, 340 U.S. 909, 71 S.Ct. 294, 95 L.Ed.'white' sc......
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71 books & journal articles
  • Colleges and Universities
    • United States
    • West's Encyclopedia of American Law Be
    • 1 January 2005
    ...offered, nor could it require the student to sit behind a railing marked "Reserved for Colored." Finally, in Sweatt v. Painter, 339 U.S. 629, 70 S. Ct. 848, 94 L. Ed. 1114 (1950), the Court found that a proposed blacks-only law school in Texas would be unequal to the prestigious a......
  • Equal access and the right to marry.
    • United States
    • University of Pennsylvania Law Review Vol. 158 Nbr. 5, April 2010
    • 1 April 2010
    ...findings of each lower court regarding the state of equalization between the schools in their respective states). (299) Id. at 494. (300) 339 U.S. 629, 634 (1950). (301) 518 U.S. 515 (1996). (302) See id. at 551-52 (cataloguing differences in faculty, athletic facilities, and endowment); Sw......
  • The common law genius of the Warren Court.
    • United States
    • William and Mary Law Review Vol. 49 Nbr. 3, December 2007
    • 1 December 2007
    ...See, e.g., Morgan v. Virginia, 328 U.S. 373 (1946). (100.) 334 U.S. 1 (1948). (101.) 332 U.S. 631 (1948). (102.) See id. at 633. (103.) 339 U.S. 629 (1950). (104.) Id. at 634. (105.) 339 U.S. 637 (1950). (106.) See id. at 640-42. (107.) Id. at 641. (108.) Louis Michael Seidman, Brown and Mi......
  • Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas
    • United States
    • West's Encyclopedia of American Law Milestones in the Law
    • 1 January 2005
    ...that a decision of the question was not necessary to a disposal of the controversy presented. In the late case of Sweatt v. Painter, 339 U.S. 629, 70 S.Ct. 848, 851, 94 L.Ed. 1114, the Supreme Court again refused to review the Plessy case. The Court said: "Nor need we reach Page 5 peti......
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2 provisions
  • Civil rights: Nondiscrimination on basis of sex in education programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance,
    • United States
    • Federal Register October 25, 2006
    • 20 October 2006
    ...equal class even if the classes are not identical in every respect. \36\ Virginia, 518 U.S. at 554 (citing Sweatt v. Painter, 339 U.S. 629, 633 (1950)). Changes: None. 14. Factors (Sec. 106.34(b)(3)) Comments: Some commenters suggested that the proposed list of factors to be used in determi......
  • Part III
    • United States
    • Federal Register October 25, 2006
    • 20 October 2006
    ...equal class even if the classes are not identical in every respect. \36\ Virginia, 518 U.S. at 554 (citing Sweatt v. Painter, 339 U.S. 629, 633 Changes: None. 14. Factors (Sec. 106.34(b)(3)) Comments: Some commenters suggested that the proposed list of factors to be used in determining whet......