Hunter v. Erickson 393 U.S. 385 (1969)
HUNTER v. ERICKSON 393 U.S. 385 (1969)
In a perverse application of the equal protection clause, an 8–1 Supreme Court struck down an amendment to the Akron, Ohio, city charter subjecting any council-passed open housing law to a referendum before it could take effect and requiring a referendum on an open housing law previously enacted.
Six Justices, speaking through byron r. white, found in the referendum requirement an "explicitly racial classification," although they conceded that it drew "no distinctions among racial and religious groups." The majority argued that the charter amendment, by making open housing laws harder to enact, "disadvantaged those who would benefit" from such laws—and presumed that the potential beneficiaries were the members of ethnic and religious minorities. The fourteenth amendment was held to protect minorities against barriers to enactment of favorable legislation.
Justice hugo l. black dissented, contending that referenda were part of the democratic political process and that advocates of particular types of legislation were not constitutionally disadvantaged merely because they might lose an election.
Dennis J. Mahoney