Bolling v. Sharpe


In Washington DC a group of parents petitioned their local school board to open a new junior high school as an integrated school.  The school board denied the petition.  A local black college professor then filed a lawsuit claiming the school board’s actions were unconstitutional.  At trial, the case was rejected outright, but the Supreme Court immediately granted certiorari upon Plaintiff’s appeal.  It was important to note that this case arose in the federal district of DC, not within a state.


Whether segregation within schools in a federal district is an unconstitutional violation of the due process clause.


Yes, the 14th amendment regarding equal protection is inapplicable in a federal district like DC.  Therefore, state law application as was used in Brown v. Board of Education is inapplicable in the instant case.  The court also held that even without considering the 14th amendment’s application, the constitution is being violated when students are not allowed to attend certain schools on the basis of race anywhere.

Justice Warren argued that equal protection clause does have greater application to school desegregation, but due process has sufficient relevance as well.  He wrote that the spirit of due process is seriously violated when a policy of segregation exists, as is equal protection.  He wrote that when discrimination is so blatant as to violate due process, the court must overrule the policy on that basis.

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