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Shaare Tefila Congregation v. Cobb, 481 U.S. 615 (1987)

Shaare Tefila Congregation v. Cobb

No. 85-2156

Argued February 25, 1987

Decided May 18, 1987

481 U.S. 615


After their synagogue was painted with anti-Semitic slogans, phrases, and symbols, petitioners brought suit in Federal District Court, alleging that the desecration by respondents violated 42 U.S.C. § 1982. The District Court dismissed petitioners' claims, and the Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that discrimination against Jews is not racial discrimination under § 1982.


1. A charge of racial discrimination within the meaning of § 1982 cannot be made out by alleging only that the defendants were motivated by racial animus. It is also necessary to allege that that animus was directed toward the kind of group that Congress intended to protect when it passed the statute. P. 481 U. S. 617.

2. Jews can state a § 1982 claim of racial discrimination, since they were among the peoples considered to be distinct races, and hence within the protection of the statute at the time it was passed. They are not foreclosed from stating a cause of action simply because the defendants are also part of what today is considered the Caucasian race. Saint Francis College v. Al-Khazraji, ante, p. 481 U. S. 604. Pp. 481 U. S. 617-618.

785 F.2d 523, reversed and remanded.

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Page 481 U. S. 616

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