Emphasizing property rights, the Supreme Court struck down state laws that mandated racial segregation in housing.
Early in the twentieth century, many southern cities enacted ordinances that mandated residential segregation. Louisville, Kentucky, prohibited both African Americans and European Americans from living on blocks where the majority of residents were persons of the other race. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Justice William R. Day argued that a residential segregation ordinance violated the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause because it was an unreasonable restriction on the liberty of all people to buy and sell property.
The Buchanan decision, however, was of limited impact for two reasons. First, it did not question the constitutionality of de jure racial segregation in areas such as education and transportation. Second, many private citizens began to enter into racially restrictive contracts, which were not rendered unenforceable until Shelley v. Kraemer
Contract, freedom of
Shelley v. Kraemer