Logourl black

Shelley v. Kraemer

United States Supreme Court
334 U.S. 1 (1948)


In 1911, thirty property owners on a street in St. Louis, Missouri signed and recorded a restrictive covenant, which provided that no races other than Caucasians were welcome as tenants on the property for the next fifty years. In 1945, the Shelleys (defendants), a black family, bought a house on one of the restricted parcels of land without knowledge of the restrictive covenant. The Kraemers and other white property owners (plaintiffs) in the subdivision brought suit in circuit court to enforce the covenant, seeking to enjoin the Shelleys from taking possession and divest them of title to the property. The circuit court denied relief to the defendants on the ground that the restrictive covenant was incomplete, because not all property owners in the subdivision had signed. The Supreme Court of Missouri, en banc, reversed and directed the trial court to enter judgment for the defendants, concluding that the covenant was valid and enforcement was constitutional. The case was consolidated with a substantially similar case from Michigan before the United States Supreme Court, which granted certiorari to determine whether the Equal Protection Clause prohibits a state's courts from enforcing racially restrictive covenants.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.


The issue section includes the dispositive legal issue in the case phrased as a question. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Holding and Reasoning (Vinson, C.J.)

The holding and reasoning section includes:

  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Here's why 93,000 law students rely on our case briefs:

  • Reliable - written by law professors and practitioners not other law students.
  • The right length and amount of information - includes the facts, issue, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your class - works on your mobile and tablet.
  • 12,592 briefs - keyed to 169 casebooks.
  • Uniform format for every case brief.
  • Written in plain English - not in legalese and not just repeating the court's language.
  • Massive library of related video lessons - and practice questions.
  • Ability to tag case briefs in an outlining tool.
  • Top-notch customer support.
Start Your Free Trial Now