Palmer v. Thompson Historic Case

At a Glance

Date Filed: 


Case Description 

Palmer v. Thompson is a civil rights case which the Black citizens of Jackson, Mississippi brought against the City for closing the public city pools instead of desegregating them.

After the Court of Appeals affirmed a judgment that enforced desegregation on equal protection grounds, the city council of Jackson, Mississippi was forced to desegregate its public recreational facilities. Five public parks were also desegregated, but their swimming pools were closed. The city council decided that rather than open the pools to Black residents, it would instead close four of the public-operated pools, claiming that they could not be operated safely and economically on an integrated basis. The fifth pool was leased to YMCA and was operated as a “whites only” pool.

The Black citizens of Jackson brought this action on equal protection grounds to force the city to reopen and operate the pools on a desegregated basis. The District Court ruled that there was no denial of equal protection. The Court of Appeals agreed with this decision and rejected the argument that there was a denial of equal protection by closing the pools to avoid desegregation.