• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court refused to seek out racially discriminatory intent in cases in which local government decisions were neutral on face.

Justice Hugo L. BlackBlack, Hugo L.;Palmer v. Thompson[Palmer v. Thompson] wrote the opinion for the 5-4 majority, upholding the decision of the city of Jackson, Mississippi, to close a public swimming pool rather than operate it as an integrated facility. Lower federal courts had ordered the pool to be integrated, and the city closed it rather than comply. African Americans thought this showed a clear discriminatory intent, but the Supreme Court was reluctant to go beyond the plausible nondiscriminatory reason the city offered for its decision. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger concurred, and Justices William O. Douglas, Byron R. White, Thurgood Marshall, and William J. Brennan, Jr., dissented, finding that there was sufficient evidence of discriminatory intent to justify overturning this local government decision as a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause. The Court subsequently moved more in the direction of the dissenters’ point of view.Discrimination, race;Palmer v. Thompson[Palmer v. Thompson]

Equal protection clause

Fourteenth Amendment

Race and discrimination

Segregation, de facto

Segregation, de jure

Categories: History