• Last updated on November 11, 2022

In the second round of the white primary cases, the Supreme Court struck down an exclusion of African Americans from primary elections by a party’s executive committee, holding that the committee was acting as an agent of the state.

In Nixon v. Herndon[case]Nixon v. Herndon[Nixon v. Herndon] (1927), the Supreme Court unanimously overturned a law that directly excluded African Americans from voting in the primaries. The Texas legislature responded by authorizing the parties’ executive committees to set qualifications for primary elections. The Democratic committee quickly limited the primaries to whites only. When A. L. Nixon, an African American physician, challenged his exclusion, the Democratic Party asserted that the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment did not apply to private organizations.African Americans;voting rights[voting rights]White primaries;Nixon v. Condon[Nixon v. Condon]African Americans;voting rights[voting rights]

Speaking for a 5-4 majority, Justice Benjamin N. CardozoCardozo, Benjamin N.;Nixon v. Condon[Nixon v. Condon] ruled narrowly that state action was involved because a state statute had vested the executive committee with its authority to set voting qualifications. The discrimination, therefore, violated the Fourteenth Amendment. The Texas legislature responded by repealing all primary election statutes and giving full control over the primaries to the political parties. This approach to African American disfranchisement would continue until Smith v. Allwright[case]Smith v. Allwright[Smith v. Allwright] (1944).

Grovey v. Townsend

Nixon v. Herndon

Private discrimination

Race and discrimination

Smith v. Allwright

State action

Vote, right to

White primaries

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