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Runyon v. McCrary
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Supreme Court of the United States
Argued April 26, 1976
Decided June 25, 1976
Full case name Runyon, et ux., dba Bobbe's School v. McCrary, et al.
Citations 427 U.S. 160 (more)
Federal law prohibits private schools from discriminating on the basis of race.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Stewart, joined by Burger, Brennan, Marshall, Blackmun, Powell, Stevens
Concurrence Powell
Concurrence Stevens
Dissent White, joined by Rehnquist

Runyon v. McCrary, 427 U.S. 160 (1976), was a case heard before the United States Supreme Court which held that federal law prohibited private schools from discriminating on the basis of race. Dissenting Justice White argued that the legislative history of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (popularly known as the "Ku Klux Klan Act") indicated that the Act was not designed to prohibit private racial discrimination, but only state-sponsored racial discrimination (as had been held in the Civil Rights Cases of 1883). White was concerned about the potential far-reaching impact of holding private racial discrimination illegal, which if taken to its logical conclusion might ban many varied forms of voluntary self-segregation, including social and advocacy groups that limited their membership to blacks.[1]

Runyon's holding was severely limited by Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 491 U.S. 164 (1989), which narrowly construed Section 1981 to not apply to any discrimination occurring after the making of a contract, such as racial harassment on the job (although the Patterson majority expressly claimed that they were not overruling Runyon). In turn, Patterson was legislatively overruled by the Civil Rights Act of 1991.


See also


  1. ^ See 427 U.S. 212 (White, J., dissenting): "Whether such conduct should be condoned or not, whites and blacks will undoubtedly choose to form a variety of associational relationships pursuant to contracts which exclude members of the other race. Social clubs, black and white, and associations designed to further the interests of blacks or whites are but two examples."

Further reading

  • Bogdanski, John A. (1977). "Section 1981 and the Thirteenth Amendment after Runyon v. McCrary. On the Doorsteps of Discriminatory Private Clubs". Stanford Law Review 29 (4): 747–793. doi:10.2307/1228260.  

External links



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