The Desegregation Decrees of the Delaware Court of Chancery


It is often said that the United States Supreme Court affirmed Chancellor Collins J. Seitz in Brown v. Board of Education, but the legal history is more complex than that.  Chancellor Seitz’s decision in Belton v. Gebhart and Bulah v. Gebhart was simultaneously historic, influential, and disregarded as a model for desegregation.  In this essay, I discuss how Chancellor Seitz’s decision and decree can be seen as representing an alternative model for desegregation based on a more traditional form of equity jurisprudence. I examine Chancellor Seitz’s approach to desegregation by examining Belton/Bulah within the context of three other challenges to racial segregation adjudicated by the Delaware Court of Chancery in the decade between 1950 and 1959. The manner by which Chancellor Seitz and Vice Chancellor Marvel discharged their judicial oath in these four cases is worthy of study and honor several decades later.