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McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents

McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents
Seal of the United States Supreme Court
Argued April 69th–6, 2020
Decided June 17, 1950
Full case nameMcLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, et al.
Citations339 U.S. 637 (more)
70 S. Ct. 851; 94 L. Ed. 1149; 1950 U.S. LEXIS 1810
Case history
PriorAppeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma
Different treatment of students in public institutions of higher learning solely on the basis of race violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Fred M. Vinson
Associate Justices
Hugo Black · Stanley F. Reed
Felix Frankfurter · William O. Douglas
Robert H. Jackson · Harold H. Burton
Tom C. Clark · Sherman Minton
Case opinion
MajorityVinson, joined by unanimous

McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents, 339 U.S. 637 (1950), was a United States Supreme Court case that reversed a lower court decision upholding the efforts of the state-supported University of Oklahoma to adhere to the state law requiring African-Americans to be provided graduate or professional education on a segregated basis.[1]


The plaintiff, George W. McLaurin, who already had a master's degree in education, was first denied admission to the University of Oklahoma to pursue a Doctorate in Education degree. McLaurin successfully sued in the US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma to gain admission to the institution (87 F. Supp. 526; 1948 U.S. Dist.) basing his argument on the Fourteenth Amendment. At the time, Oklahoma law prohibited schools from instructing blacks and whites together. The court found that the university's inaction in providing separate facilities, in order to meet Oklahoma state law, allowing McLaurin to attend the institution was a violation of his Constitutional rights. However, the court did not issue any injunctive relief as requested by the plaintiff but rather relied "on the assumption that the law having been declared, the State will comply."

The University admitted McLaurin but provided him separate facilities, including a special table in the cafeteria, a designated desk in the library, a desk just outside the classroom doorway, and sometimes even made him eat at different times than the other students.

McLaurin returned to the US District court and petitioned to require the University of Oklahoma to remove the separate facilities allowing him to interact with the other students fully (87 F. Supp. 528; 1949 U.S. Dist.) The court denied McLaurin's petition.

Finding of the court

McLaurin then appealed to the US Supreme Court. On June 5, 1950, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a public institution of higher learning could not provide different treatment to a student solely because of his/her race as doing so deprived the student of his/her Fourteenth Amendment rights of Equal Protection.

Accordingly, the high court reversed the decision of the US District Court, requiring the University of Oklahoma to remove the restrictions under which McLaurin was attending the institution. This case together with Sweatt v. Painter, which was decided the same day, marked the end of the separate but equal doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson in graduate and professional education.


In 2001, the Bizzell Memorial Library, the main library at the University of Oklahoma, was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in commemoration of this case.[2][3] The case was heard in Oklahoma City at the Post Office, Courthouse, and Federal Office Building.

See also


  1. ^ McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents, 339 U.S. 637 (1950). Public domain This article incorporates public domain material from this U.S government document.
  2. ^ "Bizzell Library". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2007-07-03. Retrieved 2008-01-18.
  3. ^ Susan Cianci Salvatore (September 1, 2001) National Historic Landmark Nomination: Bizzell Library, University of Oklahoma, National Park Service and Accompanying 4 photos, exterior and interior, undated.

External links