Vanderbilt Law Review


T. A. Smedley

First Page



Future chroniclers of the struggle for racial justice in the United States may note with some perplexity that the federal government,after a century of cautiously eschewing the power to combat racially discriminatory practices in housing, suddenly in 1968 entered the battle on two fronts. On April 11, The Civil Rights Act of 1968, with its Fair Housing Title, became the law of the land. Just over two months later the Supreme Court in Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co.ruled, on the basis of earlier legislation, that refusal to sell housing because of the race of the prospective purchaser is unlawful. Prior to the launching of these two major salvos by the legislative and judicial branches, the executive department had fired a few probing rounds against the bastions of housing discrimination; but because they were relatively limited in range and ineffectual in result,those preliminary efforts created little commotion. The biggest gun employed in this tentative assault by the executive was the Presidential Executive Order No. 11063, issued on November 20, 1962. This became the heralded "single stroke of the pen" remedy, which John F. Kennedy had made a campaign issue back in 1960 but had not found the strength to execute until he had been in office for nearly two years.