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Shelley v. Kraemer

Significance, Supreme Court Declares Racially Discriminatory Restrictive Covenants Unenforceable, Chicago's Restrictive Real Estate Covenants


J. D. Shelley


Louis Kraemer

Appellant's Claim

That restrictive covenants in real estate contracts preventing occupancy by African Americans violates the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of equal protection of the laws.

Chief Lawyers for Appellant

George L. Vaughn, Herman Willer

Chief Lawyer for Appellee

Gerald L. Seegers

Justices for the Court

Hugo Lafayette Black, Harold Burton, William O. Douglas, Felix Frankfurter, Frank Murphy, Fred Moore Vinson (writing for the Court)

Justices Dissenting

None (Robert H. Jackson, Stanley Forman Reed, Wiley Blount Rutledge did not participate)


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

3 May 1948


The Supreme Court ruled that although such covenants can be created, they cannot be enforced by state or federal courts.

Related Cases

  • Buchanan v. Warley, 245 U.S. 60 (1917).
  • Jones v. Mayer, 392 U.S. 409 (1968).


Plotkin, Wendy. "Racial Restrictive Covenants in U.S." www.iuc.edu.

Further Readings

  • Allen, Francis A. "Remembering Shelley v. Kraemer." Washington University Law Quarterly, Vol. 67, 1989, pp. 709-735.
  • Kirp, David L., John P. Dwyer, and Larry A. Rosenthal, eds. Our Town: Race, Housing, and the Soul of Suburbia. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1995.
  • Tussman, Joseph, ed. The Supreme Court on Racial Discrimination. New York: Oxford University Press, 1963.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1941 to 1953