SWEATT v. PAINTER
In 1946, Heman Marion Sweatt, a black man, applied for admission to the University of Texas Law School. State law restricted access to the university to whites, and Sweatt's application was automatically rejected because of his race. When Sweatt asked the state courts to order his admission, the university attempted to provide separate but equal facilities for black law students.
Did the Texas admissions scheme violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?
In a unanimous decision, the Court held that the Equal Protection Clause required that Sweatt be admitted to the university. The Court found that the "law school for Negroes," which was to have opened in 1947, would have been grossly unequal to the University of Texas Law School. The Court argued that the separate school would be inferior in a number of areas, including faculty, course variety, library facilities, legal writing opportunities, and overall prestige. The Court also found that the mere separation from the majority of law students harmed students' abilities to compete in the legal arena.