Shelley v. Kraemer

334 U.S. 1 (1948)


Two cases are referenced here. In the first case, Kraemer (P) sued to stop Shelley (D) from taking possession of a house. On February 16, 1911, thirty out of thirty-nine owners of property on Labadie Avenue signed an agreement, which was recorded. The agreement provided that for the next 50 years no property so restricted was to be occupied by anyone other than a person of the Caucasian race and those persons of the Negro or the Mongolian Race could not occupy any of the properties. The thirty owners held title to forty-seven parcels of fifty-seven. On August 11, 1945, Shelley (D), who was a Negro, bought a warranty deed from Fitzgerald. On October 9, 1945, respondents, as owners of other property subject to the terms of the restrictive covenant, brought suit in the Circuit Court of the city of St. Louis praying that petitioners Shelley be restrained from taking possession of the property and that judgment be entered divesting title out of petitioners Shelley, and revesting title in the immediate grantor or in such other person as the court should direct. The trial court denied the relief in that the restrictive agreement, upon which respondents based their action, had never become final and complete.  The Supreme Court of Missouri, sitting en banc, reversed and directed the trial court to grant the relief for which respondents had prayed. The second of the cases under consideration comes to this Court from the Supreme Court of Michigan. In the second case, Negroes purchased a house burdened by a racially restrictive covenant. Neighbors (P) of D sued to get D out of the house. On January 30, 1945, respondents, as owners of property subject to the terms of the restrictive agreement, brought suit against petitioners in the Circuit Court of Wayne County. After a hearing, the court entered a decree directing petitioners to move from the property within ninety days. Petitioners were further enjoined and restrained from using or occupying the premises in the future. On appeal, the Supreme Court of Michigan affirmed, deciding adversely to petitioners' contentions that they had been denied rights protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. The Ds in both cases appealed, claiming that they were denied equal protection of the laws, were deprived of property without due process and did not receive the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States.