Evans v. Newton Case Brief

Why is the case important?

A provision of a will left by a Senator Augustus Bacon (the Senator) conveyed a park to Macon, Georgia to be used by whites only. The provision was challenged under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution).

Facts of the case

In his will, U.S. Senator Augustus Bacon left a piece of real estate to the city of Macon in Georgia. He intended the land to be used as a park that only whites could access. The city, as the named trustee, created a board of managers to operate the park, and it eventually allowed African Americans to use it. Trying to effectuate the Senator’s will, individual managers of the park sued to remove the city as trustee because it was constitutionally unable to enforce the racially restrictive component of the will. After the city complied and resigned as trustee, private trustees appointed by a state court resumed excluding African Americans. A group of African Americans then brought an action on the grounds that the racial exclusion still violated equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. The state courts upheld the appointment of the private trustees.

Question

Is operating a park a public function and therefore subjected to the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution?

Answer

Yes, black people cannot be excluded because operating a park is a public function.

Conclusion

“The Court held that under the circumstances of the case, the public character of the park required that it be treated as a public institution subject to the command of the Fourteenth Amendment , regardless of who had title under state law. Furthermore, the Court held that the tradition of municipal control of the park was firmly established

  • therefore, the Court could not take judicial notice that mere substitution of trustees instantly transferred the park from the public to the private sector.”
    • Case Brief: 1966
    • Petitioner: E. S. Evans, et al.
    • Respondent: Charles E. Newton, et al.
    • Decided by: Warren Court

    Citation: 382 US 296 (1966)
    Argued: Nov 9 – 10, 1965
    Decided: Jan 17, 1966
    Granted Apr 26, 1965