Constitutional Law – Equal Protection – Racial Segregation of Spectator Seating in Courtroom

Defendant, judge of a municipal court in Virginia, assigned seating on the basis of race in that part of his courtroom reserved for spectators and for those awaiting the call of their business before the court. The same number of seats were provided for Negroes as for whites. There was no separation of the races in the area immediately before the bench nor was there any complaint of discrimination in the administration of justice. Plaintiffs are Negroes who have been required on more than one occasion to occupy seats in the spectator section on a racially-segregated basis. In a suit brought in the federal district court for a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief, held, complaint dismissed. Plaintiffs had no rights granted or guaranteed by the Constitution which were violated by the practice of racially-segregated seating in the spectator portion of a state courtroom. Wells v. Gilliam, 196 F. Supp. 792 (E.D. Va. 1961).