McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents
Decided on June 5, 1950; 339 US 637


I. ISSUES II. CASE SUMMARY III. AMICI CURIAE IV. DECISION V. WIN OR LOSS?
I. ISSUES:

A. Issues Discussed: Racial discrimination, segregation

B. Legal Question Presented:

May a state, after admitting a student to graduate instruction in its state university, afford him different treatment from other students solely because of his race?

II. CASE SUMMARY:

A. Background:

"Appellant, a Negro citizen of Oklahoma possessing a master's degree, was admitted to the Graduate School of the state-supported University of Oklahoma as a candidate for a doctorate in education and was permitted to use the same classroom, library and cafeteria as white students. Pursuant to a requirement of state law that the instruction of Negroes in institutions of higher education be 'upon a segregated basis,' however, he was assigned to a seat in the classroom in a row specified for Negro students, was assigned to a special table in the library, and, although permitted to eat in the cafeteria at the same time as other students, was assigned to a special table there."

The District Court denied Appellant's motion asking it to modify the order permitting him to attend "institutions of higher education upon a segregated basis" and its judgment holding that "such treatment did not violate the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment."

On Appeal the US Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.

B. Counsel of Record:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Unavailable Unavailable
C. The Arguments:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
 Unavailable Unavailable
III. AMICI CURIAE:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Briefs of amici curiae, supporting appellant, were filed by Solicitor General Perlman and Philip Elman for the United States; Paul G. Annes for the American Federation of Teachers; Phineas Indritz for the American Veterans Committee, Inc.; Arthur J. Goldberg for the Congress of Industrial Organizations; Edward J. Ennis and Saburo Kido for the Japanese American Citizens League; and Arthur Garfield Hays and Eugene Nickerson for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Robert L. Carter and Amos T. Hall argued the cause for appellant. With them on the brief were Thurgood Marshall and Frank D. Reeves. Marian W. Perry and Franklin H. Williams were also of counsel.
Fred Hansen, First Assistant Attorney General of Oklahoma, argued the cause for appellees. With him on the brief was Mac Q. Williamson, Attorney General.

IV. THE SUPREME COURT'S DECISION:

"The conditions under which appellant is required to receive his education deprive him of his personal and present right to the equal protection of the laws; and the Fourteenth Amendment precludes such differences in treatment by the State based upon race.

The restrictions imposed upon appellant impair and inhibit his ability to study, to engage in discussions and exchange views with other students, and, in general, to learn his profession. That appellant may still be set apart by his fellow students and may be in no better position when these restrictions are removed is irrelevant, for there is a constitutional difference between restrictions imposed by the State which prohibit the intellectual commingling of students and the refusal of students to commingle where the State presents no such bar.

Having been admitted to a state-supported graduate school, appellant must receive the same treatment at the hands of the State as students of other races."

The US Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.

Justice Vote: 9 Pro vs. 0 Con
(Unanimous Decision for Petitioner/Appellant)


  • Vinson, F. Pro (Wrote majority opinion)
  • Clark, T. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Black, H. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Frankfurter, F. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Burton, H. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Jackson, R. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Reed, S. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Minton, S. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Douglas, W. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
V. A WIN OR LOSS FOR THE ACLU?

The ACLU, as amicus curiae, urged reversal of the judgment of the District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma; the Supreme Court reversed in a 9-0 vote, giving the ACLU an apparent win.