« ForrigeFortsett »
24 Counsel for Parties.
decreeing enforcement of a covenant incorporated in conveyances of land and forbidding its rental, lease, sale, transfer or conveyance to any Negro. 82 U. S. App. D. C. 180. 162 F. 2d 233. This Court granted certiorari. 332 U. S. 789. Reversed, p. 36.
Charles H. Houston and Phineas Indritz argued the cause for petitioners. With them on the brief was Spottswood W. Robinson, III.
By special leave of Court, Solicitor General Perlrnan argued the cause for the United States, as amicus curiae, supporting petitioners. With him on the brief was Attorney General Clark.
Henry Gilligan and James A. Crooks argued the cause and filed a brief for respondents.
Briefs of amid curiae supporting petitioners were filed by A. L. Wirin, Saburo Kido and Fred Okrand for the Japanese American Citizens League; Robert W. Kenny, O. John Rogge and Mozart G. Ratner for the National Lawyers Guild; Lee Pressman, Eugene Cotton, Frank Donner, John J. Abt, Leon M. Despres, M. H. Goldstein, Isadore Katz, David Rein, Samuel L. Rothbard, Harry Sacher, William Standard and Lindsay P. Walden for the Congress of Industrial Organizations et al.; Phineas Indritz, Irving R. M. Panzer and Richard A. Solomon for the American Veterans Committee; William Maslow, Shad Polier, Joseph B. Robison, Byron S. Miller and William Strong for the American Jewish Congress; Joseph M. Proskauer and Jacob Grumet for the American Jewish Committee et al.; William Strong for the American Indian Citizens League of California, Inc.; Francis M. Dent, Walter M. Nelson, Eugene H. Buder, Victor B. Harris, Luther Ely Smith and Harold I. Kahen for the American Civil Liberties Union; Herbert S. Thatcher and
7WS88 O—« 7
Opinion of the Court. 334U.S.
Robert A. Wilson for the American Federation of Labor; Earl B. Dickerson, Richard E. Westbrooks and Loring B. Moore for the National Bar Association; Alger Hiss, Joseph M. Proskauer and Victor Elting for the American Association for the United Nations; and Edward C. Park and Frank B. Frederick for the American Unitarian Association.
Briefs of amid curiae supporting respondents were filed by E. Hilton Jackson and John W. Jackson for the Federation of Citizens Associations of the District of Columbia et al.; and Thomas F. Cadwalader and Carlyle Barton for the Mount Royal Protective Association, Inc.
Mr. Chief Justice Vinson delivered the opinion of the Court.
These are companion cases to Shelley v. Kraemer and McGhee v. Sipes, ante, p. 1, and come to this Court on certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
In 1906, twenty of thirty-one lots in the 100 block of Bryant Street, Northwest, in the City of Washington, were sold subject to the following covenant:
". . . that said lot shall never be rented, leased, sold, transferred or conveyed unto any Negro or colored person, under a penalty of Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000), which shall be a lien against said property."
The covenant imposes no time limitation on the restriction.
Prior to the sales which gave rise to these cases, the twenty lots which are subject to the covenants were at all times owned and occupied by white persons, except for a brief period when three of the houses were occupied by Negroes who were eventually induced to move without 24 Opinion of the Court.
legal action. The remaining eleven lots in the same block,1 however, are not subject to a restrictive agreement and, as found by the District Court, were occupied by Negroes for the twenty years prior to the institution of this litigation.
These cases involve seven of the twenty lots which are subject to the terms of the restrictive covenants. In No. 290, petitioners Hurd, found by the trial court to be Negroes,2 purchased one of the restricted properties from the white owners. In No. 291, petitioner Urciolo, a white real estate dealer, sold and conveyed three of the restricted properties to the Negro petitioners Rowe, Savage, and Stewart. Petitioner Urciolo also owns three other lots in the block subject to the covenants. In both cases, the Negro petitioners are presently occupying as homes the respective properties which have been conveyed to them.
Suits were instituted in the District Court by respondents, who own other property in the block subject to the terms of the covenants, praying for injunctive relief to enforce the terms of the restrictive agreement. The cases were consolidated for trial, and after a hearing, the court entered a judgment declaring null and void the deeds of the Negro petitioners; enjoining petitioner Urciolo and one Ryan, the white property owners who had sold the houses to the Negro petitioners, from leasing, selling or conveying the properties to any Negro or colored person; enjoining the Negro petitioners from leasing or conveying the properties and directing those petitioners "to remove themselves and all of their personal belongings" from the premises within sixty days.
1 All of the residential property in the block is on the south side of the street, the northern side of the street providing a boundary for a public park.
2 Petitioner James M. Hurd maintained that he is not a Negro but a Mohawk Indian.
Opinion of the Court. 334U.S.
The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, with one justice dissenting, affirmed the judgment of the District Court.3 The majority of the court was of the opinion that the action of the District Court was consistent with earlier decisions of the Court of Appeals and that those decisions should be held determinative in these cases.
Petitioners have attacked the judicial enforcement of the restrictive covenants in these cases on a wide variety of grounds. Primary reliance, however, is placed on the contention that such governmental action on the part of the courts of the District of Columbia is forbidden by the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment of the Federal Constitution.4
Whether judicial enforcement of racial restrictive agreements by the federal courts of the District of Columbia violates the Fifth Amendment has never been adjudicated by this Court. In Corrigan v. Buckley, 271 U. S. 323 (1926), an appeal was taken to this Court from a judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia which had affirmed an order of the lower court granting enforcement to a restrictive covenant. But as was pointed out in our opinion in Shelley v. Kraemer, supra, the only constitutional issue which had been raised in the lower courts in the Corrigan case, and, consequently, the only constitutional question before this Court on appeal, related to the validity of the private agreements as such. Nothing in the opinion
3 82 U. S. App. D. C. 180, 162 F. 2d 233 (1947).
* Other contentions made by petitioners include the following: judicial enforcement of the covenants is contrary to § 1978 of the Revised Statutes, derived from the Civil Rights Act of 1866, and to treaty obligations of the United States contained in the United Nations' charter; enforcement of the covenants is contrary to the public policy; enforcement of the covenants is inequitable.
24 Opinion of the Court.
of this Court in that case, therefore, may properly be regarded as an adjudication of the issue presented by petitioners in this case which concerns, not the validity of the restrictive agreements standing alone, but the validity of court enforcement of the restrictive covenants under the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.5 See Shelley v. Kraemer, supra at p. 8.
This Court has declared invalid municipal ordinances restricting occupancy in designated areas to persons of specified race and color as denying rights of white sellers and Negro purchasers of property, guaranteed by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Buchanan v. Warley, 245 U. S. 60 (1917); Harmon v. Tyler, 273 U. S. 668 (1927); Richmond v. Deans, 281 U. S. 704 (1930). Petitioners urge that judicial enforcement of the restrictive covenants by courts of the District of Columbia should likewise be held to deny rights of
5 Prior to the present litigation, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia had considered cases involving enforcement of racial restrictive agreements on at least eight occasions. Corrigan v. Buckley, 55 App. D. C. 30, 299 F. 899 (1924); Torrey v. Wolfes. 56 App. D. C. 4, 6 F. 2d 702 (1925); Russell v. Wallace, 58 App. D. C. 357, 30 F. 2d 981 (1929); Cornish v. O'Donoghue, 58 App. D. C. 359, 30 F. 2d 983 (1929); Grady v. Garland, 67 App. D. C. 73, 89 F. 2d 817 (1937); Hundley v. Gorewitz, 77 U. S. App. D. C. 48, 132 F. 2d 23 (1942); Mays v. Burgess, 79 U. S. App. D. C. 343, 147 F. 2d 869 (1945); Mays v. Burgess, 80 U. S. App. D. C. 236, 152 F. 2d 123 (1945).
In Corrigan v. Buckley, supra, the first of the cases decided by the United States Court of Appeals and relied on in most of the subsequent decisions, the opinion of the court contains no consideration of the specific issues presented to this Court in these cases. An appeal from the decision in Corrigan v. Buckley was dismissed by this Court. 271 U. S. 323 (1926). See discussion supra. In Hundley v. Gorewitz, supra, the United States Court of Appeals refused enforcement of a restrictive agreement where changes in the character of the neighborhood would have rendered enforcement inequitable.