• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court interpreted the Civil Rights Act of 1866 as prohibiting private nonreligious schools from discriminating on the basis of race.

In Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co.[case]Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co.[Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co.] (1968),[case]Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co.[Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co.] the Supreme Court held that the 1866 Civil Rights Law outlawed private racial discrimination and that the law was valid under the Thirteenth Amendment. A key element of the law was its broad right-to-contract provision in Title XLII. Based on this provision, African American parents in Virginia brought suit against private commercial schools that had refused to admit their children.Civil Rights Act of 1866Discrimination, race;Runyon v. McCrary[Runyon v. McCrary]Civil Rights Act of 1866

By a 7-2 vote, the Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and also held that forbidding segregation in the schools did not violate the white parents’ right to free association. Writing for the majority, Justice Potter StewartStewart, Potter;Runyon v. McCrary[Runyon v. McCrary] conceded that parents have a First Amendment right “to send their children to educational institutions that promote the belief that racial discrimination is desirable” but stated that “it does not follow that the practice of excluding racial minorities from such institutions is also protected by the same principle.” Two justices dissented on the grounds that Jones had been wrongly decided. Although the Court greatly restricted Runyon’s scope in Patterson v. McLean Credit Union[case]Patterson v. McLean Credit Union[Patterson v. MacLean Credit Union] (1989), the Civil Rights Law of 1991 reinstated Runyon’s broad interpretation of Title XLII.[case]Runyon v. McCrary[Runyon v. McCrary]

Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co.

Patterson v. McLean Credit Union

Private discrimination

Race and discrimination

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