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Case Basics
Docket No. 
Russell L. Runyon et al.
Michael McCrary et al.
No. 75-66
No. 75-278
No. 75-306
(argued the cause for the petitioners in 75-62)
(argued the cause for the petitioners in 75-66 and respondents in 75-306)
(argued the cause for the petitioners in 75-278)
(argued the cause for the petitioners in 75-306)
(argued the cause for the respondents in 75-62, 75-66, and 75-278)
Facts of the Case 

Michael McCrary and Colin Gonzales were black children who were denied admission to Bobbe's School. Gonzales was also denied admission to Fairfax- Brewster School. McCrary and Gonzales's parents filed a class action against the schools, suspecting the denials were due to their children's race. A federal district court ruled for McCrary and Gonzales, finding that the school's admission policies were racially discriminatory. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the decision.


(1) Were the schools' admission policies in violation of 42 U.S.C. Section 1981?

(2) Did 42 U.S.C. Section 1981 violate the Constitutional right to privacy and free association?

Decision: 7 votes for Mccrary, 2 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Reconstruction Civil Rights Acts (42 USC 1981)

Yes and no. In a 6-2 opinion, the Court held that Section 1981 prohibited the racially discriminatory policies of the schools. While the schools were private, Jones v. Alfred Meyer Co. held that Section 1981 applied to "purely private acts of racial discrimination." Writing for the majority, Justice Potter Stewart described the school's admission policies as "classical violation[s] of Section 1981." While the Court acknowledged the right to free association of parents to send their children to schools that "promote the belief that racial segregation is desirable," it was not entitled the constitutional protection. Additionally, the Court cited Pierce v. Society of Sisters and the right of the State "reasonably to regulate all schools."

Cite this Page
RUNYON v. MCCRARY. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 August 2015. <>.
RUNYON v. MCCRARY, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 26, 2015).
"RUNYON v. MCCRARY," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 26, 2015,