Bolling v. Sharpe Case Brief

Why is the case important?

The Petitioners, Negro minors (Petitioners), allege the segregation in the public schools of the District of Columbia deprives them of Due Process of law under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution).

Facts of the case

The D.C. Board of Education denied a petition by a group of parents in Anacostia to racially integrate John Phillip Sousa Junior High School. The following year, in 1950, the parents sought admission to the all-white school for 11 African-American children. When the request was again denied by the Board, a Howard University law professor brought a lawsuit. The claim was dismissed by the trial court.

Question

Whether the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution is violated by the segregation of public school children in the District of Columbia?

Answer

Yes, the racial segregation in the public schools of the District of Columbia is a denial of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Conclusion

The Court found that segregation in public education was not reasonably related to any proper governmental objective, and thus it imposed on petitioners a burden that constituted an arbitrary deprivation of their liberty in violation of the Due Process Clause of U.S. Const. amend. V . Moreover, the Court held that just as the Constitution prohibits the states from maintaining racially segregated public schools under the Equal Protection Clause of U.S. Const. amend. XIV , racial segregation in the public schools of the District of Columbia was a denial of the due process of law under U.S. Const. amend. V .

  • Case Brief: 1954
  • Petitioner: Spotswood Thomas Bolling et al.
  • Respondent: C. Melvin Sharpe et al.
  • Decided by: Warren Court

Citation: 347 US 497 (1954)
Argued: Dec 10 – 11, 1952
ReArgued: Dec 8 – 9, 1953
Decided: May 17, 1954