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Sweatt v. Painter

United States Supreme Court
339 U.S. 629 (1950)



Sweatt (plaintiff), a black person, applied for admission to the prestigious University of Texas Law School, a state institution amply endowed with faculty and other resources. The university admitted only whites, so Painter and other Texas officials (defendants) rejected Sweatt's application on racial grounds. However, the state's blacks-only law school offered to admit Sweatt. Sweatt sued for admission to the university, arguing his rejection on racial grounds violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The trial judge ruled that the Equal Protection Clause required only that Texas provide Sweatt with a legal education comparable to what the university provided. Sweatt appealed to the Texas Court of Civil Appeals, which held that, before dismissing Sweatt's case, the trial judge had to determine if the university and the blacks-only law school offered comparable educational opportunities. On remand, the judge found that the opportunities were comparable and dismissed Sweatt's case. Both the appellate court and the Texas Supreme Court affirmed the judge's ruling. The United States Supreme Court granted Sweatt's petition for certiorari and heard arguments for and against overturning Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U. S. 537 (1896), which held that official racial segregation was legal if the government provided similar facilities for blacks and whites.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Vinson, C.J.)

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