"Restrictive Covenants Case Reaches U.S. Court"

Chicago Defender


Saturday, November 2, 1940

Page 1


Washington. -- (ANP)

-- For the first time since 1917, the question of residential segregation was argued in the Supreme Court of the United States, whom on Friday, October 25, the famous Chicago case of Hansberry vs. Lee was presented.

For the defendant, Carl Hansberry, Chicago real estate broker, Attys. Earl B. Dickerson, Loring B. Moore, Truman Gibson, Irvin Mollison and C. Francis Stradford, appeared and with Attorney Dickerson presenting the case, apparently scored heavily with the members of the Court.

With the full court in session, Chief Justice Hughes presiding, Mr. Dickerson pointed out the facts on which he brought the case before the supreme court on an appeal from the verdict of the supreme court of the state of Illinois.

Upholding the decision of the lower courts of the state, the case was before the United States supreme court to test the validity of restrictive covenants.

Mr. Dickerson's argument was frequently interrupted by Associate Justices Felix Frankfurter, Hugo Black, James C. McReynolds and even the chief justice himself, all of whom sought clarification of points in question.

Growing out of a case where a group of white owners had drawn up an agreement among themselves some years ago not to sell their properties to Negro tenants, the [Page 2] ramifications of the case have been bitterly fought in the Chicago courts up through the highest courts in the state of Illinois.

Representing the opposition was Atty. McKenzie Shannon, white, son of the famous Chicago attorney, Angus Shannon. Mr. Shannon's case was not as concisely nor as clearly presented as that of his opponents and the members of the court, who seemed to have an especially comprehensive grasp of the situation, especially Justices Frankfurter and Black, left little doubt in the minds of the crowded court room as to the outcome.

Should the court render a decision favorable to Hansberry the effect will be far reaching. However, there is no indication just how far the court will go in this practice of tenant covenants.

Jubilant over the handling of the case, the Chicago lawyers feel that this cause which the Illinois courts settled on a case known as the Burke-Kleiman case, involving a similar though disputed action, will bring about radical changes and more respect for the constitutional rights of Negroes to own and live in property which they are able to purchase.


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