The Misunderstood Consequences of Shelley v. Kraemer
47 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2010 Last revised: 24 Oct 2010
Date Written: July 16, 2010
Shelley v. Kraemer (1948) is one of the most celebrated decisions in the history of the United States Supreme Court. Nevertheless, some have argued that it was largely superfluous, because blacks lacked the capacity to enforce their rights and white neighborhoods and institutions had other methods available to stop black entry. Oddly enough, despite continuing strong scholarly interest in restrictive covenants, there has been very little empirical analysis of how Shelley changed housing opportunities of African Americans. In this paper, we attempt such an evaluation, and we find strong support for the proposition that Shelley had a dramatic impact upon the housing opportunities available to blacks. Just as important, we find that this shift in opportunities changed the dynamics of black ghettos in ways that have important implications for basic debates about urban policy and the black underclass.
Keywords: restrictive covenants, Shelley v. Kraemer, black underclass, urban policy
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