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The Supreme Court's decision in Shelley v. Kraemer, the Supreme Court held unconstitutional judicial enforcement of racially restrictive covenants. If Shelley marks an important point in the progress of American race relations, it may be even more significant as a symbol of the vexing search for the boundaries between purely private and state action and, more specifically, the reach of the protections of the Fourteenth Amendment in a changing world. In this article, the author argues that Shelley can be read as a watershed decision that in a single stroke (1) eliminated the independent significance of the Supreme Court's long-adopted state action doctrine; and (2) lent significant momentum to an emerging view of equal protection as calling forth at least some affirmative state duties to provide individuals or groups with aid in obtaining access to basic human goods or needs.

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34 St. Louis B.J. 14 (1987).