Missouri Ex Rel Gaines v. Canada

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MISSOURI EX REL GAINES V. CANADA, 305 U.S 337 (1938). Gaines was the first major victory won in the U.S. Supreme Court by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in its campaign against racial segregation in public education. In a 6-2 decision, Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes struck down a Missouri scheme whereby the state excluded African Americans from its state university's law school and paid their tuition to attend a public law school in a contiguous state. (There was no law school at Lincoln University, the state's black public college.) Hughes held that this violated the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection of the law. While Gaines did not question the separate-but-equal doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), it was the first case in which the Court refused to accept segregation and exclusion in public universities. The Court left states the option of creating segregated professional and graduate schools, but in Sweatt v. Painter (1950), it also foreclosed that possibility, holding that such schools failed to provide true equality for their prospective students. After Brown v. Board of Education I (1954) held segregated public education unconstitutional per se, it became apparent that Gaines had marked the beginning of segregation's downfall at all levels of public schooling.


Kluger, Richard. Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality. New York: Random House, 1975.

William M.Wiecek

See alsoBrown v. Board of Education of Topeka ; Plessy v. Ferguson ; Segregation .

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Missouri Ex Rel Gaines v. Canada

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Missouri Ex Rel Gaines v. Canada