Evans v. Newton
382 U.S. 296 (1966)

  • Senator Bacon left some land to the city of Macon, GA to build a park.
    • The only stipulation was that the park was for white people only.
      • He was quite the philanthropist, wasn’t he?
  • The city maintained the park for whites only for a while, but eventually decided that everyone should be able to use the park.
    • The city felt that since the park was a public facility, they could not legally enforce racial segregation.
  • The park’s Board of Trustees and Bacon’s relatives sued. The city resigned as a trustee, and new private trustees were found.
  • “Negro intervenors” appealed, saying that the city shouldn’t be allowed to re-privatize the park.
  • The US Supreme Court found that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment requires that the park remain desegregated.
    • The US Supreme Court noted that private organizations are not bound by the Equal Protection Clause and can remain segregated.
      • The 14th Amendment generally only applies to governmental actions, not those of private persons. (aka the State Action Doctrine).
    • However, the park had been maintained as a public facility, with public money. Therefore it meets the Public Function Exception to the State Action Doctrine.
      • “We cannot but conclude that the public character of this park requires that it be treated as a public institution subject to the command of the 14th Amendment, regardless of who now has title under State law.”