Washington Law Review


Plaintiffs, black children, were denied admission to defendants' private schools solely on the basis of race. The children's parents had made applications for admission in response to brochures mailed to "resident" and advertisements directed to the general public. Alleging that defendants had violated 42 U.S.C. § 1981 by denying plaintiffs the same right to enter into contracts that was enjoyed by white applicants, plaintiffs filed a class action suit in federal district court. The district court enjoined defendants and intervenor Southern Independent School Association from further racial discrimination in their admission practices. A divided Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the injunction. The Supreme Court affirmed in a 7-2 decision. Held: Because section 1981 reaches private acts of discrimination, it provides a remedy against a commercially operated, nonsectarian, privately owned school's denial of admission solely on the basis of race. Runyon v. McCrary, 427 U.S. 160 (1976).

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