The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

12 September 2005

Cleaning Jim Crow's droppings

The California Assembly has passed a bill which would simplify the task of removing old racial covenants from real-estate records. Since 1948, these "agreements" to sell only to [fill in name of ethnic group], or not to sell to [fill in name of other ethnic group], have been legally unenforceable — the Supreme Court ruled in Shelley v. Kraemer that no court could be required to enforce such a covenant, per the 14th Amendment, though the Court did not actually invalidate the covenants themselves — but actually getting them off the property records has required a lot of jumping through various legal hoops and had to be done one parcel at a time. (If you'd like to see what these looked like, a standard covenant used in Chicago may be found here.)

Under AB 394, should a property owner request, a copy of the covenant will be forwarded to counsel for the county; should the covenant be found by counsel to be racially discriminatory, the recorder will strike references to it from every parcel in the subdivision.

Out-of-date laws — especially out-of-date bad laws — are always worth the effort to expunge. Governor Schwarzenegger ought to sign this measure promptly.

(Via McGehee.)

Posted at 12:14 PM to Political Science Fiction