Thursday, November 14, 2013

Palmore v. Sidoti case brief

Palmore v. Sidoti case brief summary
466 U.S. 429 (1984)

Certiorari was granted to the District Court of Appeal of Florida, Second District, which affirmed without opinion an order of a trial court divesting petitioner mother of the custody of her child and awarding custody of the child to respondent father because of the mother's remarriage to a member of a minority. The mother appealed.

A mother challenging a state court order divesting her of custody of her child contended that, contrary to the trial court's findings, it was not in her pre-school child's best interests to be removed from her custody, while the father alleged that the child would be damaged by being raised in a racially mixed household. The mother was remarried to a man of a different race. The trial court determined that there was no question as to the parental qualifications of the mother or her new husband and was entirely forthcoming as to race being the rationale for its holding.


  • The United States Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Fourteenth Amendment would not brook such governmentally-imposed discrimination based on race. 
  • While the Court found that the State of Florida had a substantial governmental interest for purposes of the Equal Protection Clause in protecting the interests of children, such an interest could not support the State's toleration of prejudices based on race. 
  • The reality of private biases and the possible injury such biases could inflict on a child were determined by the Court not to be permissible considerations for removal of an infant child from its mother.

The Court reversed the judgment upholding an order divesting the mother of custody of her child.

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