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Sweatt v. Painter

From Academic Kids

Sweatt v. Painter, 339 U.S. 629 (1950) was a United States Supreme Court case that reversed a decision first made by a Texas trial court which found that a newly-established state law school for African Americans met the separate but equal provisions of the Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896) court decision. The trial court decision was affirmed by the Court of Civil Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court denied writ of error on further appeal. The case was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court which reversed the lower court decision.

The case involved a negro man, Heman Marion Sweatt, who was refused admission to the University of Texas Law School on the grounds that substantially equivalent facilities (meeting the requirements of Plessy) were offered by a law school open only to blacks.

At the time the plaintiff first applied to the University of Texas, there was no law school in Texas which admitted blacks. The Texas trial court, instead of granting the plaintiff a writ of mandamus, continued the case for six months allowing the state time to create a law school only for blacks.

The Supreme Court reversed the lower court decision saying that the separate school failed to measure up because of quantitative differences in facilities and intangible factors such as its isolation from most of the future lawyers with whom its graduates would interact.

The documentation of the court's decision includes the following differences in facilities between the University of Texas Law School and the separate law school for blacks. The University of Texas Law school had 16 full-time and 3 part-time professors and the separate law school had 5 full-time professors. The University of Texas Law School had 850 students and a law library of 65,000 volumes. The separate school had 23 students and a library of 16,500 volumes.

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