On April 25, 1988, the Supreme Court ignited a controversy by announcing that it would reconsider' its ruling in Runyon v. McCrary, a landmark 1976 civil rights decision, in a case currently before the Court, Patterson v. McClean Credit Union. Runyon affirmed the right of certain minority groups to sue private entities for unlawful discrimination under 42 U.S.C. Section 1981. Patterson calls into question the origin of the present Section 1981. This Note discusses the elements of the controversy unleashed by the Court: the origin and operation of the present Section 1981 and its relation to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. In addition, the Note treats the legal doctrines of state action and stare decisis with respect to Runyon and its progeny addressing employment discrimination. The Note concludes that reversal of Runyon could substantially unsettle American law and set national civil rights policy on a course back to the future.
Note, Runyon Reconsidered: The Future of Section 1981 as a Basis for Employment Discrimination Claims, 38 Clev. St. L. Rev. 251 (1990)