Background on NAACP Thurgood Marshall & the FBI Military Desegregation  
Chambers v. Florida(1940) Smith v. Allwright(1943) Shelley v. Kraemer(1947) Sipuel v. Univ. of Oklahoma(1948) Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954)

Shelley v. Kraemer (1947)

    Beginning in about 1910, segregation laws in housing started to take a large effect in the South. It seemed, said Arthur Spingarn, that it was “the initial step in an attempt to create Negro ghettos throughout the United States.”1 Not only were Negroes kept out of towns, but there were attempts to isolate Jews, Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos, and Koreans as well. A series of court cases soon followed challenging these laws. By the 1940s it had been established that while it was illegal as a violation of due process to make residential housing ordinances that restricted any race or nationality from a certain part of a city or town, private agreements by individuals were not in any violation of the Constitution. The validity of these private agreements was questioned in Shelley v. Kraemer in 1947.

    In 1911, in St. Louis, Missouri, a covenant was signed by the private property owners that would restrict both blacks and Asians from living in the area for 50 years. The petitioners, represented by Shelley, bought property from these owners despite the covenant, and were later ordered by the state to give up the property. Marshall argued this case before the Supreme Court and, in a unanimous decision, won on the grounds that although private agreements don’t violate the 14th Amendment, they do violate the Equal Protection Clause if the states enforce the agreements. This reestablished the right of all citizens to own property regardless of race or nationality.

1 Thurgood Marshall and the Persistence of Racism in America (84)