Digital History
Texas's White-Only Primary Law Overturned
Digital History ID 3697


Annotation: A 1923 Texas state law declared that in “no event shall a negro be eligible to participate in a Democratic Party election.” Dr. L.A. Nixon, a black El Paso physician sued, arguing that the law violated his rights to equal protection under the 14th Amendment.

Document: …it seems to us hard to imagine a more direct and obvious infringement of the 14th [Amendment]. That Amendment, while it applies to all, was passed, as we know, with a special intent to protect the blacks from discrimination against them…. That Amendment “not only gave citizenship and the privileges of citizenship to persons of color, but it denied to any state the power to withhold from them the equal protection of the laws….” The statute of Texas, in the teeth of the prohibitions referred to, assumes to forbid negroes to take part in a primary election…discriminating against them by the distinction of color alone. States may do a good deal of classifying that it is difficult to believe rational, but there are limits, and it is too clear for extended argument that color cannot be made the basis of a statutory classification affecting the right set up in this case.

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