The Taft Court (1921–30)

Racial Discrimination

Why did the Taft Court refuse to invalidate a racially restrictive covenant?

The Taft Court refused to invalidate a racially restrictive covenant in Corrigan v. Buckley (1926) because it argued that such agreements between private parties were beyond the reach of the government. The Court reasoned that the prohibitions against racial discrimination found in the Fourteenth Amendment required state action or government participation. Racially restrictive covenants, according to the Court, involved just the actions of private persons, not government officials. Thus, it was beyond the control of the Constitution. This view prevailed in the U.S. Supreme Court until the 1948 decision Shelley v. Kraemer in which the Vinson Court ruled that judicial enforcement of racially restrictive covenants constituted state action and violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.


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