Amdt14.S1.5.1.3 Facially Non-Neutral Laws

Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.


Statutes that forbid the contracting of marriage between persons of different races are unconstitutional,1 as are statutes that penalize interracial cohabitation.2 Nor may a court deny custody of a child based on a parent’s remarriage to a person of another race and the presumed “best interests of the child” to be free from the prejudice and stigmatization that might result.3

Judicial System

Segregation in courtrooms is unlawful and may not be enforced through contempt citations for disobedience4 or through other means. Treatment of parties to or witnesses in judicial actions based on their race is impermissible.5 Jail inmates have a right not to be segregated by race unless there is some overriding necessity arising out of the process of keeping order.6

Public Designation

It is unconstitutional to designate candidates on the ballot by race7 and apparently any sort of designation by race on public records is suspect, although not necessarily unlawful.8

Public Accommodations

Whether discrimination practiced by operators of retail selling and service establishments gave rise to a denial of constitutional rights occupied the Court’s attention considerably in the early 1960s, but it avoided finally deciding one way or the other, generally finding forbidden state action in some aspect of the situation.9 Passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 obviated any necessity to resolve the issue.10

Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967). back
McLaughlin v. Florida, 379 U.S. 184 (1964). back
Palmore v. Sidoti, 466 U.S. 429 (1984). back
Johnson v. Virginia, 373 U.S. 61 (1963). back
Hamilton v. Alabama, 376 U.S. 650 (1964) (reversing contempt conviction of witness who refused to answer questions so long as prosecutor addressed her by her first name). back
Lee v. Washington, 390 U.S. 333 (1968); Wilson v. Kelley, 294 F. Supp. 1005 (N.D.Ga.), aff’d, 393 U.S. 266 (1968). back
Anderson v. Martin, 375 U.S. 399 (1964). back
Tancil v. Woolls, 379 U.S. 19 (1964) (summarily affirming lower court rulings sustaining law requiring that every divorce decree indicate race of husband and wife, but voiding laws requiring separate lists of white and black citizens in voting, tax and property records). back
E.g., Burton v. Wilmington Parking Authority, 365 U.S. 715 (1961); Turner v. City of Memphis, 369 U.S. 350 (1962); Peterson v. City of Greenville, 373 U.S. 244 (1963); Lombard v. Louisiana, 373 U.S. 267 (1963); Robinson v. Florida, 378 U.S. 153 (1964). back
Title II, 78 Stat. 243, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000a to 2000a–6. See Hamm v. City of Rock Hill, 379 U.S. 306 (1964). On the various positions of the Justices on the constitutional issue, see the opinions in Bell v. Maryland, 378 U.S. 226 (1964). back