Evans v. Abney 396 U.S. 435 (1970)

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EVANS v. ABNEY 396 U.S. 435 (1970)

The 1911 will of U.S. Senator Augustus O. Bacon gave land to the city of Macon, Georgia, in trust for use as a park for white persons only. The city's operation of the park on these terms could not survive the Supreme Court's decisions invalidating state-sponsored segregation, and the city was replaced by private trustees. When the Supreme Court held, in Evans v. Newton (1966), that the park must still be open to all races, Bacon's residuary heirs claimed the land, arguing that the trust had failed. The Georgia courts agreed, and the Supreme Court held, 5–2, that this judicial enforcement of Bacon's racially discriminatory disposition of property did not constitute state action in violation of the fourteenth amendment. Justice hugo l. black, for the majority, distinguished shelley v. kraemer (1948), saying that Abney involved no racial discrimination : the terminated park was unavailable for blacks and whites alike. Justices william o. douglas and william j. brennan dissented.

Abney's importance lay in showing that Shelley did not stand for a broad principle forbidding judicial enforcement of any and all private racial discrimination. It also began the burger court's revitalization of the state action limitation as a barrier to enforcement of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Kenneth L. Karst

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Evans v. Abney 396 U.S. 435 (1970)

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