Facts of the Case

Provided by Oyez

Buchanan was a white individual who sold a house to Warley, a black individual in Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville had an ordinance that prohibited blacks from living on a block where the majority of residents were white. Since 8 of 10 houses were occupied by whites, Warley was not allowed to live on the block. Buchanan sued Warley in Jefferson County Circuit Court to complete the sale. Warley cited the city ordinance as the reason for non-completion of the sale. The question went to the Kentucky Court of Appeals. Buchanan alleged that the ordinance violated the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld the statute.


  1. Did Louisville's ordinance violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?


  1. Yes. In a unanimous decision, the Court reversed the Kentucky Court of Appeals and ruled that the ordinance was unconstitutional. In an opinion written by Justice William R. Day, the Court recognized Louisville's interest in exercising its police power and the "promotion of the public health, safety, and welfare." However, the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the Fourteenth Amendment "[assured] to the colored race the enjoyment of all the civil rights…enjoyed by white persons." Louisville's interest did not justify the ordinance, which would "deny rights created or protected by the Federal Constitution." Therefore, the ordinance was unconstitutional.