Evans v. Newton

PETITIONER: E. S. Evans, et al.
RESPONDENT: Charles E. Newton, et al.
LOCATION: Baconsfield Park

DOCKET NO.: 61
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)
LOWER COURT:

CITATION: 382 US 296 (1966)
ARGUED: Nov 09, 1965 / Nov 10, 1965
DECIDED: Jan 17, 1966
GRANTED: Apr 26, 1965

ADVOCATES:
C. Baxter Jones - for the respondents
Frank C. Jones - for the respondents
Jack Greenberg - for the petitioners
Louis F. Claiborne - for the United States, as amicus curiae

Facts of the case

In 1911, United States Senator Augustus O. Bacon executed a will that left land to the Mayor and City Council of Macon, Georgia, to serve as a public park for white people only. Under the conditions of the will, the park would be under the control of a seven-person Board of Managers, all of whom would be white. The city followed the dictates of the will and kept the park segregated for many years, but ultimately desegregated the land. Charles E. Newton and the other members of the Board of Managers sued the city and requested that the city be removed as a trustee. A group of African American citizens of the city, including Reverend E. S. Evans, intervened and asked that court deny the application to appoint new trustees. The city resigned from its position as trustee, and the Georgia court appointed new trustees. On appeal by the African American citizens, the Supreme Court of Georgia affirmed that a will can bequeath property to a limited class and the courts can enforce the express dictates of the trust.

Question

When private actors fulfill public or governmental duties, are they subject to constitutional restrictions?

Media for Evans v. Newton

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 10, 1965 in Evans v. Newton

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 09, 1965 in Evans v. Newton

Earl Warren:

Number 61, E. S. Evans et al., Petitioners, versus Charles E. Newton et al.

Mr. Greenberg?

Jack Greenberg:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This case involves the question of racial segregation in a large public park in the City of Macon, Georgia which is open to the entire public except the Negroes.

This Court granted certiorari to review the judgment of the Supreme Court of Georgia which affirmed the judgment of the superior court of Bibb County.

The case arrived that its present posture after a lengthy series of pleadings involving five sets of parties, the Board of Managers of the park, Baconsfield, certain heirs named Sparks and certain heirs named Curry, the City of Macon and the Negro interveners, and some of these parties shifted their position that during the course of the litigation in ways that significantly affected the substantive rights involved and they asked the Court's indulgence while I relate the substance of this series of papers which may be tedious so that the case can properly be understood.

The case was commenced by an entity known as the Board of Managers of the park which was named Baconsfield that was created in a will written in 1911.

The Board originally had been appointed by the City of Macon and all successor members of the Board since it came into being or appointed by the mayor and council of the City of Macon.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Was this the Board's only job, to carryout this particular trust -- yes, and was it appointed to the authority of -- what was the sole device or (Voice Overlap)

Jack Greenberg:

It was there, there was a will which had the trust following the death of certain --

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

And were provisions made in the will itself?

Jack Greenberg:

For the Board of Managers, yes.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

And that the appointments to the board should be by the city?

Jack Greenberg:

By the mayor and city council, yes.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

All in the will?

Jack Greenberg:

Yes, all in the will, yes.

Now the Board which had been appointed by the city Mr. Justice Brennan then brought suit against the city.

It turned on its part in a sense charging that the city had not been faithful to a racially restrictive provision in the will of the late Senator who's name was Augustus Octavius Bacon and because the will had originally created the park for white persons only.

The city feeling that it was inhibited by law from enforcing this racial restriction had not enforced it for several weeks preceding the institution of the suit in 1963.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Just the weeks --

Jack Greenberg:

Yes, that's right.

In 1963, Negroes had started going upon the property.

The Board of Managers had asked the city to enforce this provision of the will.

The city had not enforced the will.

The Board of Managers brought suit against the city.

The board asserted in its complaint that if the city would discharge its trustee and if three private trustees were then substituted, the Board could bring suit against the city in mandamus or otherwise to compel it presumably in its police capacity to do something which was inhibited from doing in it's trustee capacity.

And it said in its complaint that -- they said that the city would discharge this trustee and a private trustee were appointed instead, the private trustees could then mandamus the city.

It will bring some other kind of preceding against the city or other law enforcement officers to carryout these duties so that the racially restricted provisions of the will would be observed.

Now the city didn't resist the complaint.

It admitted the allegations of the complaint and it said two things.