Georgia Law Review, Vol. 5, No. 4 (Summer 1971), pp. 734-749


For over one hundred years Congress and the federal courts have pursued the goal of racial equality in the United States. In areas such as voting rights, public accommodations, and housing, Congress and the courts have interacted closely, with broad judicial interpretations upholding major remedial legislation. Moreover, when confronted by official state sources of racial discrimination, courts have traditionally responded to the clear command of the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment without awaiting congressional action. Brown v. Board of Education stands as perhaps the best known instance in which a court has, on its own, ordered the elimination of disparate treatment based on race. Thus, when in Hawkins v. Town of Shaw, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ordered a small Mississippi Delta town to end discrimination in the quantity and quality of municipal services it provided its black citizens, the court acted in keeping with this tradition.