Assignment 3 Essay

Submitted By brrelicox
Words: 982
Pages: 4

Constitutional Law: Assignment 3

In 1955 there was a case in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Tate v. Department of Conservation and Development, 133 F. Supp. 53 (E.D. Va. 1955), that I believe is relevant to the situation stated in this assignment. The case pertains to issues with state funded facilities in regard to desegregation and the 14th Amendment. In June of 1951 in the state of Virginia a racial discrimination suit was filed in the U.S. District Court when a group of African Americans were denied access to Seashore State Park in Princess Ann County which also was the most profitable and popular of all Virginia’s parks. During this time a landmark trial regarding the 14th Amendment was already taking place, Brown v. Board of Education, and pending the outcome of this case the Seashore plaintiffs requested a continuance. After the landmark Supreme Court decision in the Brown case finding that racial segregation in public school was unconstitutional and abolishing the “separate but equal” doctrine, the plaintiffs in the Seashore suit filed a motion to reopen and continue their racial discrimination case regarding Seashore State Park. It was in 1955 that the Department of Conservation and Development in Virginia began to think up other options in order to maintain operation as well as continue on as segregated parks. The department at one point contemplated selling the park system or closing it all together. However, in 1955 the department decided to lease Seashore State Park to a private operator. If it worked in a way which benefited the department by allowing the Seashore State Park to be privately run and continuing on as a segregated park then the department concluded that it would lease all of Virginia’s state parks. The department thought this would not only protect the Virginia’s financial investment it had the park system, but it also allow the state to continue to own the parks without having to adhere to the policy of racial integration. The department reasoned with the court that the state of Virginia could not operate Seashore State park under the state’s segregation policy as a desegregated park, and felt they also could not afford to operate Seashore State Park on an integrated basis as they foreshadowed losing lucrative income needed to keep Seashore operational despite Seashore being the most profitable and financially stable of all of Virginia’s state parks. However, the lawyers for the plaintiffs in the Seashore suit found the lease program, one in which had never been talked about prior to the pretrial conference on November 5, 1954, to be racially discriminating as well. The lawyers for the plaintiffs filed an injunction to prevent them from taking such measures. The court agreed with the plaintiffs and ruled that if the department decided to lease the park that “… the contemplated lease of the park will not, however, contain any provisions, conditions, restrictions or reservations that could be construed as restricting the use of the park to members of the white race.” The state of Virginia appealed the decision, and decided to close Seashore State Park while waiting on the outcome of their appeal. In April of 1956 the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the lower court’s ruling, and the state of Virginia filed another appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court. That plea to overturn the decree made by the lower court was rejected by the Supreme Court. The park remained closed to all races for several years. It wasn’t until 1960 and after years of mounting pressure from Virginia citizens and other groups did the state re-open the park, with the exception of the beach and cabins, on a racial integrated basis. It was not until 1964 when the Civil Rights Act was passed by Congress was Virginia’s State Park System’s