Desegregation is the process of eliminate segregation, division or isolation of a group on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin. All public as well as private owned facilities meant to serve the public at large should ensure that every individual is given full and equal enjoyment of the facility without discrimination or segregation on the grounds of race, color, religion, or national origin.
Title III of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides all individuals the right to equal use of public facilities. The Act also allows individuals who have been subjected to segregation the right to file complaints with the United States Attorney General whenever they are deprived of or threatened with the loss of their right to equal protection by being denied the equal utilization of any public facility.
Courts have held that segregation in state or municipally owned or operated public facilities is unconstitutional. There have been several successful challenges where courts have held that segregation in such public facilities is unconstitutional. In Johnson v. Virginia,[i] the United States Supreme Court prohibited all forms of segregation that were practiced in courtrooms. The court held that when a state allows segregation in a court of justice, the action amounted to a violation of the state’s duty to provide equal protection of the laws to all its citizens.
In Rackley v. Board of Trustees,[ii] the court held that state or private hospitals which receive funds from the United States cannot practice discrimination of any kind that brings about segregation. Further, in Bynum v. Schiro,[iii] segregation of all forms was prohibited in the operation of municipal auditoriums and similar state operated public facility, because it violated both the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Constitution.
In Lagarde v. Recreation & Park Com.,[iv] the court prohibited all kinds of segregation at public recreational facilities. The court was of the view that there was no justification for operating such facilities on a segregated basis. In Auerbach v. African American Teachers Asso.,[v] segregation in school auditoriums used by private groups was successfully challenged.
In Small v. Hudson,[vi] the court held that any form of segregation practiced at a nursing home was a direct violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, and hence prohibited. In Lee v. Washington,[vii] the court brought about an end to all forms of segregation that prevailed in jails. Likewise, in Gilmore v. Montgomery,[viii] and Wesley v. Savannah,[ix] segregation in parks and golf courses were prohibited, respectively.
[i] 373 U.S. 61 (U.S. 1963)
[ii] 238 F. Supp. 512 (D.S.C. 1965)
[iii] 219 F. Supp. 204, 209 (E.D. La. 1963)
[iv] 229 F. Supp. 379 (E.D. La. 1964)
[v] 356 F. Supp. 1046 (D.N.Y. 1973)
[vi] 322 F. Supp. 519 (M.D. Fla. 1970)
[vii] 390 U.S. 333, 334 (U.S. 1968)
[viii] 417 U.S. 556 (U.S. 1974)
[ix] 294 F. Supp. 698 (S.D. Ga. 1969)