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Terry v. Adams

United States Supreme Court
345 U.S. 461 (1953)

Terry v. Adams


The Jaybird Democratic Association or Jaybird Party was a Fort Bend County, Texas political organization created to hold primary elections and identify candidates that would later run in the Democratic Party primary and general elections. The winner of the Jaybird Party primary had been successful in every general election for over fifty years. The Jaybird Party limited its membership exclusively to white people. It conducted its elections according to identical procedures as the county elections, with the exception of the fact that African Americans were excluded from voting. Terry (plaintiff) was an African American person excluded from voting who brought suit against Adams (defendant) of the Jaybird Party and Fort Bend County in federal district court. The district court held that the Jaybird Party acted unconstitutionally, but the court of appeals reversed on the grounds that it was not a state organization. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Black, J.)

Concurrence (Clark, J.)

Dissent (Minton, J.)

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