On This Date in Legal History

On June 5, 1950, the United States Supreme Court handed down two decisions that dealt with racial segregation in higher learning institutions. In McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education et al, George McLaurin, an African American student, alleged his constitutional rights were violated when he was assigned to sit in a particular row designated for “colored students” in class, in the library and in the cafeteria.

Classroom Seating Arrangement to Accommodate African American Law Student, McLaurin v. Oklahoma Board of Regents, United States Circuit Court for the Western District, Oklahoma City Division, RG 21, National Archives Southwest Region.

The classroom seating arrangement to accommodate African American law student George McLaurin. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

The Court agreed that it was unconstitutional to treat students differently solely on the basis of one’s race.







In Sweatt v. Painter et al, the University of Texas Law School refused to admit an African American student, Heman Sweatt, on the basis of his race. The State of Texas established another law school for African Americans, and that school did admit him; however, Sweatt refused to register. He claimed that the school was inferior.

Photograph, Heman Sweatt registering for classes at UT Law. Image courtesy of the University of Texas. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

Heman Sweatt registering for classes at University of Texas Law School. Image courtesy of the University of Texas.

The Court (unanimously) sided with Heman Sweatt finding that the University of Texas Law School was “superior.” They ordered that he be admitted.

About Tina Nelson
Tina Nelson

Tina Nelson is an attorney and mom. She created the LAWSUIT™ board game to teach her three children about the law. The game was an instant success. Copyrights and a patent were obtained, and Professional Games, Inc. was born. Professional Games, Inc. created this blog to educate and keep its friends and customers regularly updated about our American legal system.
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