Buchanan v. Warley1603 invalidated an ordinance which prohibited blacks from occupying houses in blocks where the greater number of houses were occupied by whites and which prohibited whites from doing so where the greater number of houses were occupied by blacks. Although racially restrictive covenants do not themselves violate the equal protection clause, the judicial enforcement of them, either by injunctive relief or through entertaining damage actions, does violate the Fourteenth Amendment.1604 Referendum passage of a constitutional amendment repealing a "fair housing" law and prohibiting further state or local action in that direction was held unconstitutional in Reitman v. Mulkey,1605 though on somewhat ambiguous grounds, while a state constitutional requirement that decisions of local authorities to build low-rent housing projects in an area must first be submitted to referendum, although other similar decisions were not so limited, was found to accord with the equal protection clause.1606 Private racial discrimination in the sale or rental of housing is subject to two federal laws prohibiting most such discrimination.1607 Provision of publicly assisted housing, of course, must be on a nondiscriminatory basis.1608
1603 245 U.S. 60 (1917). See also Harmon v. Tyler, 273 U.S. 668 (1927); Richmond v. Deans, 281 U.S. 704 (1930).
1604 Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1 (1948); Hurd v. Hodge, 334 U.S. 24 (1948); Barrows v. Jackson, 346 U.S. 249 (1953). Cf. Corrigan v. Buckley, 271 U.S. 323 (1926).
1605 387 U.S. 369 (1967).
1606 James v. Valtierra, 402 U.S. 137 (1971). The Court did not perceive that either on its face or as applied the provision was other than racially neutral. Justices Marshall, Brennan, and Blackmun dissented. Id. at 143.
1607 Civil Rights Act of 1866, 14 Stat. 27, 42 U.S.C. § 1982, see Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co., 392 U.S. 409 (1968), and Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, 82 Stat. 73, 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq.
1608 See Hills v. Gautreaux, 425 U.S. 284 (1976).
Last modified: June 9, 2014