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Sweatt v. Painter
Transcript of Sweatt v. Painter
The state district court in Travis County, instead of granting the plaintiff a writ of mandamus, continued the case for six months.
When Sweatt asked the state courts to order his admission, the university attempted to provide separate but equal facilities for black law students. A Law School was erected in Houston and named the "Texas State University for Negroes."
Supreme Court Decision
In a unanimous decision, the Court held that the Equal Protection Clause required that Sweatt be admitted to the university. The Court found that the "law school for Negroes," which was to have opened in 1947, would have been grossly unequal to the University of Texas Law School. The Court argued that the separate school would be inferior in a number of areas, including faculty, course variety, library facilities, legal writing opportunities, and overall prestige. The Court also found that the mere separation from the majority of law students harmed students' abilities to compete in the legal arena.
The case of Sweatt v. Painter called into question the specific provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.
The southern United States, although leagues past antebellum slavery and Reconstruction, remained a prejudiced, judicially-corrupt society which maligned African American through Jim Crow legislation, practices, and attitudinal treatment.
Routine for the south was a policy of segregation, in accordance with the 1896 Supreme Court decision of Plessy v. Ferguson, which upheld the constitutionality of state laws requiring racial segregation in public facilities under the doctrine of "separate but equal".
Mr. Sweatt Heads to Washington
Supreme Court arguments began on April 4, 1950, and were resolved on June 5, 1950.
Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson sat on the case.
Sweatt v. Painter
The case involved a young black man, Heman Marion Sweatt, who was refused admission to the School of Law of the University of Texas, whose president was Theophilus Painter, on the grounds that the Texas State Constitution prohibited integrated education. At the time, no law school in Texas would admit black students, or, in the language of the time, "Negro" students.
Equal Protection Clause
"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
Chief Justice Vinson's Opinion
"The law school for Negroes which was to have opened in February, 1947, would have had no independent faculty or library. The teaching was to be carried on by four members of the University of Texas Law School faculty, who were to maintain their offices at the University of Texas while teaching at both institutions. Few of the 10,000 volumes ordered for the library had arrived, [n2] nor was there any full-time librarian. The school lacked accreditation."
The new University for black students would be separate, but by no means "equal."