Report "Report of Special Committee on Racial Discrimination for 1955"

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Report "Report of Special Committee on Racial Discrimination for 1955"


This document is a report titled "Report of Special Committee on Racial Discrimination for 1955" written by the Association of American Law Schools. The report outlined the Association’s new policies on equal opportunity in legal education and the consequences member schools may face if they did not comply. At the Association’s 1950 meeting, it resolved that it "‘opposes the continued maintenance of segregation or discrimination in legal education on racial grounds, and asserts its belief that it is the professional duty of all member schools to abolish any such practices at the earliest possible time.’" This report was the result of that resolution. At the time of its publication, "sixteen member schools have not yet admitted Negro students or announced a readiness to admit them," which the Association found "disappointing" especially considering the Association’s adoption of an amendment to its Articles of Association and Brown v. Board of Education. The Association’s amendment stated that one of its objectives was "‘Equality of opportunity in legal education without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race or color.’" After Brown v. Board, only a few schools had desegregated; the Association’s Special Committee was doubtful that integration would occur "‘if the Association engages only in exhortation and watchful waiting, and the need for action of a more positive character by the Association will therefore have to be considered.’"

In the report, the Association made it clear that continued membership in the Association was contingent on compliance with the new objective. The Association also acknowledged that "Law and its procedures have been used in countless ways as the instrumentalities of discrimination" but "our law has become an agency of emancipation and correction." The report claimed that segregation in law schools is ironic because now "it is the law that is being invoked to end segregation in education." Opponents to the Association’s sanctions argued that the Association "may encourage, but should not require, conformity with the ideals of a majority of its members." They also addressed other oppositional viewpoints, such as public institutions that refuse to comply and schools experiencing "humiliation" by admitting a black student.

The report proposed the following amendments: The Committee’s Specific Case Approach, The Nature of the Sanction, The Conditions to the Proposed Sanctions Operation, The Authority to Defer Action, Action by the Association in Excluding and Reinstating Schools, and Reports of Non-Compliance. The Committee’s Specific Case Approach called for equal opportunity in legal education and denounced "discriminatory denials of admission," which was the "most important barrier to equal opportunity." It also stated that schools that did not comply would be excluded from membership in the Association. Schools that denied a black applicant—not schools that did not have any black applicants—would be excluded from membership. The Nature of the Sanction called for amending the Articles of Association to add the new sanctions. The Conditions to the Proposed Sanction’s Operation acknowledged that "Negro applicants may sometimes in fact be handicapped in meeting [admissions standards] by inadequate prior education" and that some institutions may put admissions standards in place that may be impossible for black applicants to meet; it called for an investigation if the Association found that a school denied admission based solely on race or color. The Authority to Defer Action permitted the Committee "to defer temporarily a recommendation to the Association that the discriminating school be excluded" as a "precaution against cutting off opportunities for constructive action by member schools." Action by the Association in Excluding and Reinstating Schools described the exclusion and reinstatement processes. Reports of Noncompliance called for a system of reporting compliance with the Association’s standards and requirements.


Report of Special Committee on Racial Discrimination for 1955, 24 Oct 1955, RG 6.2.4 box 22 folder 16, University Archives, Virginia Baptist Historical Society.









Richmond (Va.)

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“Report "Report of Special Committee on Racial Discrimination for 1955",” University of Richmond Race & Racism Project, accessed April 16, 2024,