Palmore v. Sidoti

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Palmore v. Sidoti
Court Supreme Court of the United States
Date decided April 25, 1984


Mr & Mrs Sidoti divorced in 1980 when they had a 3-year-old daughter.

The divorced Mrs Sidoti was awarded custody of her daughter. The next year, she married a black man.

Procedural History

Mr Sidoti demand custody of his daughter. Mr Sidoti stated that Mrs Sidoti had chosen a "socially-unacceptable lifestyle for herself" by marrying a black man. Mrs Sidoti had taken the last name Palmore.

Mr Sidoti was accused of harboring anti-black prejudice for referring to the interracial marriage of his former wife as a "lifestyle" choice.

The trial court awarded custody to the father Mr Sidoti without expressly stating that the custody termination of Mrs Palmore was based on race. The trial court stated that the other members of the community could treat the youngling unacceptably due to the interracial marriage in the 1980s.


Does the 14th Amendment allow a state court to rely on the effects of private racial prejudices of neighbors and others in the community against inter-racial marriage to decide a child-custody order?


Warren Burger accused the Florida trial court of having made a racist decision. He conceded that a child in a racially mixed household in the 1980s Florida might have encountered social discrimination.


The EPC (Equal Protection Clause) provides that the government may based a decision on race only if that decision is necessary to serve a "compelling government interest" (strict scrutiny).

Mrs. Palmore is awarded her child's custody & the lower courts are over-ruled.


The social dis-approval of the community in the 1980s Florida on inter-racial marriage shouldn't have dictated the child custody order.