Waugh v. Mississippi University
Annotate this Case
237 U.S. 589 (1915)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Waugh v. Mississippi University, 237 U.S. 589 (1915)
Waugh v. Board of Trustees of University of Mississippi
Argued May 4, 1915
Decided June 1, 1915
237 U.S. 589
The equal protection provision of the Fourteenth Amendment does not forbid classification based on obvious and rational distinctions.
If a state police statute is not invalid under the Fourteenth Amendment, regulations of the proper officials making it effective are not invalid under that amendment.
A state may base a classification of the students in its educational institutions by putting those already connected with organizations, the joining of which is to be prohibited by a police statute, into an excepted class by themselves; the classification is reasonable, as legislation should not, on principles of construction and justice, be construed retrospectively.
What regulations a state may establish as to the discipline of its educational institutions, and how such regulations shall be enforced, are matters for the state courts to determine, and unless they deny due process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment, the decision of the state court is conclusive.
A state may establish the rule that students in its educational institutions shall not affiliate with fraternities, and even though such fraternities may be moral and beneficial in themselves, the prohibition is a matter within the wisdom of the state legislature, and does not offend the due process provision of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The statute of Mississippi of 1912 prohibiting Greek-letter fraternities and other societies in the educational institutions of the state is not unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment either as denying students due process of law or as denying some of them the equal protection of the law by reason of its permitting those students already members of such societies to continue their membership under specified conditions.
The facts, which involve the constitutionality under the due process and equal protection provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment of a statute of the State of Mississippi prohibiting Greek Letter fraternities and other societies in
the educational institutions of the state, are stated in the opinion.