MIAMI (Nov. 4)
The Florida Real Estate Commission has revoked the license of a real estate broker who sold property in West Palm Beach to a Jew, despite the seller’s desire that sales be restricted to Christians The broker, Duncan Mac-Gregor, has appealed to the Florida Supreme Court and the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith this week filed a brief in his behalf as a “friend of the court.”
The commission’s action came on the complaint of H. K. Allard, owner of a subdivision, that MacGregor had concluded a deal with a Jew despite his knowledge of Allard’s desire that no plot be sold to Jews. Allard further charged that the real estate broker represented the buyer’s faith as Christian.
The ADL brief sharply challenged the right of the State of Florida to enforce indirectly restrictive practices in the sale of real estate. Written by Judge Sam I. Silver of West Miami, the brief pointed out that the seller had not claimed financial detriment as a result of MacGregor’s failure to follow his discriminatory instructions, “It is very clear,” the brief stated, that the sole factor that gave rise to the seller’s complaint was his discovery that the purchaser was a person of the Jewish faith.”
Noting that the question before the court was whether the State of Florida or its agent, the Real Estate Commission, could offer its aid to compel compliance with restrictive covenants in realty transactions, the brief noted that if the license revocation was upheld “the state will be putting itself in the position of warning all other holders of state real estate brokers licenses that they must comply with similar discriminatory religious restrictions or suffer severe financial punishment.
The brief cited a U S Supreme Court decision barring states from enforcing restrictive covenants, and sections of the Florida state constitution upholding the right of religious freedom. It concluded that any action punishing MacGregor for failure to carry out discriminatory instructions would be “contrary to the established public policy” of Florida.