Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



Those who make it their business to follow closely the work of the Supreme Court have noticed its tendency to save the most controversial decisions of the term for the last days in June, just before the Court recesses for the summer. One sometimes gets the impression that the Justices wish to be far away from the summer storms produced by these decisions, returning to Washington in the quieter days of the fall. Thus it was not surprising that the Court saved its decision in Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co. until June 17, 1968, and then promptly left town. The Jones case is a glaring example of the Court's habit of effecting constitutional revision by judicial fiat. In this case, a majority of the Justices engaged in a transparent exercise of rewriting history and gave an ancient and limited civil rights statute an interpretation that not even ardent defenders of the Court's activism thought warranted.In a seven-to-two decision the Court held that the Civil Rights Act of 1866 had been intended to and did prohibit private racial discrimination in the sale or rental of housing.