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Lee v. Washington

The Facts Of The Case, The Supreme Court Rules, Concurring Opinion, Prisoner Lawsuits, Further Readings


Frank Lee, et al.


Caliph Washington, et al.

Petitioner's Claim

That an Alabama law segregating blacks from whites in prisons and jails was constitutionally permissible.

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Nicholas S. Hare, Special Assistant Attorney General of Alabama

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Charles Morgan, Jr.

Justices for the Court

Hugo Lafayette Black, William J. Brennan, Jr., William O. Douglas, Abe Fortas, John Marshall Harlan II, Thurgood Marshall, Potter Stewart, Earl Warren, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting



Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

11 March 1968


The Alabama law segregating blacks from whites in jails and prisons was held to be unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment.


The Supreme Court's decision in Lee v. Washington reaffirmed the Court's determination to end segregation, not only in schools but in other public institutions. It also confirmed the right of prisoners to file class action lawsuits against the state.


The Supreme Court's decision in Lee v. Washington emboldened other prisoners to file class action suits without fear of having them thrown out of court for lack of standing. It also brought desegregation litigation out of the schools and into the new arena of prisons and jails.

Related Cases

  • Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78 (1971).
  • Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319 (1972).
  • Goosby v. Osser, 409 U.S. 512 (1973).
  • Jones v. North Carolina Prisoners' Union, 433 U.S. 119 (1977).


Levs, Joshua, et al. "Georgia Prison Beatings." All Things Considered, 23 July 1997.

Vandenbraak, Susan B. "PLRA: A Step in the Right Direction." Corrections Today, August 1998.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1963 to 1972