Norwood v. Harrison

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Norwood v. Harrison
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued February 20–21, 1973
Decided June 25, 1973
Full case name Norwood, et al. v. Harrison, et al.
Citations 413 U.S. 455 (more)
93 S. Ct. 2804; 37 L. Ed. 2d 723; 1973 U.S. LEXIS 28
Private schools have the right to exist and to operate, but the State is not required by the Equal Protection Clause to provide assistance to private schools equivalent to that it provides to public schools without regard to whether the private schools discriminate on racial grounds.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Burger, joined by Stewart, White, Marshall, Blackmun, Powell, Rehnquist
Concurrence Douglas
Concurrence Brennan

Norwood v. Harrison, 413 U.S. 455 (1973), is a United States Supreme Court decision in the area of constitutional law which the court held that a state cannot provide aid to a private school which discriminates on the basis of race.

Facts of the Case[edit]

Textbooks were being purchased by the state of Mississippi and given to students for free in both public and private schools pursuant a statute passed in 1940. The District Court decided in favor of the state and the Supreme Court heard oral arguments February 20 and 21, 1973.

The Court's Decision[edit]

The Supreme Court ruled that a state may not constitutionally give or lend textbooks to students who attend a school that discriminates on the basis of race,[1] otherwise the discriminatory conduct of the private school could be considered state action and would thus be in violation of the Constitution.

The unanimous ruling was authored by Chief Justice Burger and was joined by Stewart, White, Marshall, Blackmun, Powell, and Rehnquist. Justices Douglas and Brennan wrote concurring opinions.

The Court held that Mississippi was not obligated under the Equal Protection Clause to provide equal assistance to private schools and public schools, ruling that the state does have a constitutional obligation to avoid providing financial assistance to schools that practice racist or other invidious discrimination.[2][3]


  1. ^ Nowak, John E., Ronald D. Rotunda. Principles of Constitutional Law. Thomson West 2004.
  2. ^ Norwood v. Harrison, 413 U.S. 455 (1973); pp. 468-470.
  3. ^ "Norwood v. Harrison - 413 U.S. 455 (1973)". The Oyez Project. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 

External links[edit]