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Smith v. Allwright

Significance, Reconstruction, A Foot In The Door, A Final Test, An End To State-sponsored Political Discrimination


Lonnie E. Smith


S. S. Allwright, election judge, et al.

Petitioner's Claim

That rules of the Texas Democratic Party which barred African Americans from participation in primary elections violated his constitutional rights.

Chief Lawyers for Petitioner

Thurgood Marshall and William H. Hastie

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

George W. Barcus

Justices for the Court

Hugo Lafayette Black, William O. Douglas, Felix Frankfurter, Robert H. Jackson, Frank Murphy, Stanley Forman Reed (writing for the Court), Wiley Blount Rutledge, Harlan Fiske Stone

Justices Dissenting

Owen Josephus Roberts


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

3 April 1944


The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the petitioner's claim and overturned two lower court decisions to hold that the Texas Democratic Party owed Smith $5000 in compensatory damages, and that the party could no longer exclude African Americans from participation in its primary elections.

Related Cases

  • Newberry v. United States, 256 U.S. 232 (1921).
  • Nixon v. Herndon, 273 U.S. 536 (1927).
  • Nixon v. Condon, 286 U.S. 73 (1932).
  • Grovey v. Townsend, 295 U.S. 45 (1935).
  • United States v. Classic, 313 U.S. 299 (1941).


Hall, Kermit L., ed. The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Additional topics

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