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review and similar activities, the University of Texas Law School is superior. What is more important, the University of Texas Law School possesses to a far greater degree those qualities which are incapable of objective measurement but which make for greatness in a law school. Such qualities, to name but a few, include reputation of the faculty, experience of the administration, position and influence of the alumni, standing in the community, traditions and prestige. It is difficult to believe that one who had a free choice between these law schools would consider the question close.
Moreover, although the law is a highly learned profession, we are well aware that it is an intensely practical one. The law school, the proving ground for legal learning and practice, cannot be effective in isolation from the individuals and institutions with which the law interacts. Few students and no one who has practiced law would choose to study in an academic vacuum, removed from the interplay of ideas and the exchange of views with which the law is concerned. The law school to which Texas is willing to admit petitioner excludes from its student body members of the racial groups which number 85% of the population of the State and include most of the lawyers, witnesses, jurors, judges and other officials with whom petitioner will inevitably be dealing when he becomes a member of the Texas Bar. With such a substantial and significant segment of society excluded, we cannot conclude that the education offered petitioner is substantially equal to that which he would. receive if admitted to the University of Texas Law School.
It may be argued that excluding petitioner from that school is no different from excluding white students from the new law school. This contention overlooks realities. It is unlikely that a member of a group so decisively in the majority, attending a school with rich traditions and
prestige which only a history of consistently maintained excellence could command, would claim that the opportunities afforded him for legal education were unequal to those held open to petitioner. That such a claim, if made, would be dishonored by the State, is no answer. "Equal protection of the laws is not achieved through indiscriminate imposition of inequalities." Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U. S. 1, 22 (1948).
It is fundamental that these cases concern rights which are personal and present. This Court has stated unanimously that "The State must provide [legal education] for [petitioner] in conformity with the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and provide it as soon as it does for applicants of any other group." Sipuel v. Board of Regents, 332 U. S. 631, 633 (1948). That case "did not present the issue whether a state might not satisfy the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by establishing a separate law school for Negroes." Fisher v. Hurst, 333 U. S. 147, 150 (1948). In Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, 305 U. S. 337, 351 (1938), the Court, speaking through Chief Justice Hughes, declared that "petitioner's right was a personal one. It was as an individual that he was entitled to the equal protection of the laws, and the State was bound to furnish him within its borders facilities for legal education substantially equal to those which the State there afforded for persons of the white race, whether or not other negroes sought the same opportunity." These are the only cases in this Court which present the issue of the constitutional validity of race distinctions in state-supported graduate and professional education.
In accordance with these cases, petitioner may claim. his full constitutional right: legal education equivalent to that offered by the State to students of other races. Such education is not available to him in a separate law school as offered by the State. We cannot, therefore,
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agree with respondents that the doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U. S. 537 (1896), requires affirmance of the judgment below. Nor need we reach petitioner's contention that Plessy v. Ferguson should be reexamined in the light of contemporary knowledge respecting the purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment and the effects of racial segregation. See supra, p. 631.
We hold that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires that petitioner be admitted to the University of Texas Law School. The judgment is reversed and the cause is remanded for proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
MCLAURIN v. OKLAHOMA STATE REGENTS FOR HIGHER EDUCATION ET AL.
APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA.
No. 34. Argued April 3-4, 1950.-Decided June 5, 1950.
Appellant, a Negro citizen of Oklahoma possessing a master's degree, was admitted to the Graduate School of the state-supported University of Oklahoma as a candidate for a doctorate in education and was permitted to use the same classroom, library and cafeteria as white students. Pursuant to a requirement of state law that the instruction of Negroes in institutions of higher education be "upon a segregated basis," however, he was assigned to a seat in the classroom in a row specified for Negro students, was assigned to a special table in the library, and, although permitted to cat in the cafeteria at the same time as other students, was assigned to a special table there. Held: The conditions under which appellant is required to receive his education deprive him of his personal and present right to the equal protection of the laws; and the Fourteenth Amendment precludes such differences in treatment by the State based upon race. Pp. 638-642.
(a) The restrictions imposed upon appellant impair and inhibit his ability to study, to engage in discussions and exchange views with other students, and, in general, to learn his profession. Pp. 640-641.
(b) That appellant may still be set apart by his fellow students and may be in no better position when these restrictions are removed is irrelevant, for there is a constitutional difference between restrictions imposed by the State which prohibit the intellectual commingling of students and the refusal of students to commingle where the State presents no such bar. P. 641.
(c) Having been admitted to a state-supported graduate school, appellant must receive the same treatment at the hands of the State as students of other races. P. 642.
87 F. Supp. 528, reversed.
The proceedings below are stated in the opinion. The judgment below is reversed, p. 642.
Robert L. Carter and Amos T. Hall argued the cause for appellant. With them on the brief were Thurgood
Marshall and Frank D. Reeves. Marian W. Perry and Franklin H. Williams were also of counsel.
Fred Hansen, First Assistant Attorney General of Oklahoma, argued the cause for appellees. With him on the brief was Mac Q. Williamson, Attorney General.
Briefs of amici curiae, supporting appellant, were filed by Solicitor General Perlman and Philip Elman for the United States; Paul G. Annes for the American Federation of Teachers; Phineas Indritz for the American Veterans Committee, Inc.; Arthur J. Goldberg for the Congress of Industrial Organizations; Edward J. Ennis and Saburo Kido for the Japanese American Citizens League; and Arthur Garfield Hays and Eugene Nickerson for the American Civil Liberties Union.
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE VINSON delivered the opinion of the Court.
In this case, we are faced with the question whether a state may, after admitting a student to graduate instruction in its state university, afford him different treatment from other students solely because of his race. We decide only this issue; see Sweatt v. Painter, ante, p. 629.
Appellant is a Negro citizen of Oklahoma. Possessing a Master's Degree, he applied for admission to the University of Oklahoma in order to pursue studies and courses leading to a Doctorate in Education. At that time, his application was denied, solely because of his race. The school authorities were required to exclude him by the Oklahoma statutes, 70 Okla. Stat. (1941) §§ 455, 456, 457, which made it a misdemeanor to maintain or operate, teach or attend a school at which both whites and Negroes are enrolled or taught. Appellant filed a complaint requesting injunctive relief, alleging that the action of the school authorities and the statutes upon which their action was based were unconstitutional and deprived him