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Florida Supreme Court Rule Voids Anti-jewish Restrictive Covenants

April 22, 1959
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Florida State Supreme Court, at Tallahassee, has handed down a verdict upsetting restrictions on the sale of property to Jews in the Miami area as unconstitutional and as a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. In its decision, the Supreme Court delivered a rebuke to a lower court which had upheld the anti-Jewish restrictions, and referred to the lower court’s “total blindness to the compelling and controlling” aspects of United States Supreme Court rulings in similar cases.

The case was brought by B. J. Harris, wealthy Miami Jew, who had bought and occupied a home on Sunset Island here. The by-laws of the local association of home-owners provided that no member of the corporation would sell or lease any property in the area-to any person “not of the Caucasian race, or who is not a Gentile, or who has been convicted of a felony.” Harris bought property on the island, built a home, and sought and was denied membership in the association. The group then brought suit to have him moved from the island.

When the Dade County Circuit Court upheld the association, Harris appealed to the Supreme Court, which reversed the lower court and affirmed that “the original requirement of membership in the specific exclusion of Jews constituted an illegal an unenforceable restraint on these appellants at the time they acquired the property.”

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