Opinion - Reynolds

In The State, ex rel. Garnes, v. McCann et al., 21 Ohio St. 198, 210, it was said:

"Conceding that the fourteenth amendment not only provides equal securities for all, but guarantees equality of rights to the citizens of a state, as one of the privileges of citizens of the Uuited [sic] States, it remains to be seen whether this privilege has been abridged in the case before us. The law in question surely does not attempt to deprive colored persons of any rights. On the contrary it recognizes their right, under the constitution of the state, to equal common-school advantages, and secures to them their equal proportion of the school fund. It only regulates the mode and manner in which this right shall be enjoyed by all classes of persons. The regulation of this right arises from the necessity of the case. Undoubtedly it should be done in a manner to promote the best interests of all. But this task must, of necessity, be left to the wisdom and discretion of some proper authority. The people have committed it to the general assembly, and the presumption is that it has discharged its duty in accordance with the best interests of all. At all events, the legislative action is conclusive, unless it clearly infringes the provisions of the constitution.

"At most the fourteenth amendment only affords to colored citizens an additional guaranty of equality of rights to that already secured by the constitution of the state.

"The question, therefore, under consideration is the same that has, as we have seen, been heretofore determined in this state, that a classification of the youth of the state for school purposes, upon any basis which does not exclude either class from equal school advantages, is no infringement of the equal rights of citizens secured by the constitution of the state.

"We have seen that the law, in the case before us, works no substantial inequality of school privileges between the children of both classes in the locality of the parties. Under the lawful regulation of equal educational privileges, the children of each class are required to attend the school provided for them, and to which they are assigned by those having the lawful official control of all. The plaintiff, then, cannot claim that his privileges are abridged on the ground of inequality of school advantages for his children. Nor can he dictate where his children shall be instructed, or what teacher shall perform that office, without obtaining privileges not enjoyed by white citizens. Equality of rights does not involve the necessity of educating white and colored persons in the same school, any more than it does that of educating children of both sexes in the same school, or that different grades of scholars must be kept in the same school. Any classification which preserves substantially equal school advantages is not prohibited by either the state or federal constitution, nor would it contravene the provisions of either. There is, then, no ground upon which the plaintiff can claim that his rights under the fourteenth amendment have been infringed."

In People, ex rel. King, v. Gallagher, 93 N. Y. 438, 447, 45 Am. Rep. 232, the opinion reads:

"It is believed that this provision will be given its full scope and effect when it is so construed as to secure to all citizens, wherever domiciled, equal protection under the laws and the enjoyment of those privileges which belong as of right to each individual citizen. This right, as affected by the questions in this case, in its fullest sense, is the privilege of obtaining an education under the same advantages and with equal facilities for its acquisition with those enjoyed by any other individual. It is not believed that these provisions were intended to regulate or interfere with the social standing or privileges of the citizen, or to have any other effect than to give to all, without respect to color, age or sex, the same legal rights and the uniform protection of the same laws. . . .

"When the government, therefore, has secured to each of its citizens equal rights before the law and equal opportunities for improvement and progress, it has accomplished the end for which it is organized and performed all of the functions respecting social advantages with which it is endowed.

"The design of the common-school system of this state is to instruct the citizen, and where for this purpose they have placed within his reach equal means of acquiring an education with other persons, they have discharge their duty to him, and he has received all that he is entitled to ask of the government with respect to such privileges. The question as to how far he will avail himself of those advantages, or, having done so, the use which he will make of his acquirements, must necessarily be left to the action of the individual. . . .

"If the right, therefore, of school authorities to discriminate, in the exercise of their discretion, as to the methods of education to be pursued with different classes of pupils be conceded, how can it be argued that they have not the power, in the best interests of education, to cause different races and nationalities, whose requirements are manifestly different, to be educated in separate places. We cannot see why the establishment of separate institutions for the education and benefit of different races should be held any more to imply the inferiority of one race than that of the other, and no ground for such an implication exists in the act of discrimination itself. . . .

"A natural distinction exists between these races which was not created neither can it be abrogated by law, and legislation which recognizes this distinction and provides for the peculiar wants or conditions of the particular race can in no just sense be called a discrimination against such race or an abridgment of its civil rights.

"The right of the individual, as affected by the question in hand, is to secure equal advantages in obtaining an education at the public expense, and where that privilege is afforded him by the school authorities, he cannot justly claim that his educational privileges have been abridged, although such privileges are not accorded him at the precise place where he most desires to receive them."