The concepts of equal protection and due process, both stemming from the American ideal of fairness, are not mutually exclusive. The "equal protection of the laws" is a more explicit safeguard of prohibited unfairness than "due process of law," and, therefore, the Supreme Court of the United States does not imply that the two are always interchangeable phrases. But discrimination may be so unjustifiable as to violate due process.
This case challenged the validity of segregation in the public schools of the District of Columbia. The petitioners, African American students, alleged that segregation deprived them of due process of law under the Fifth Amendment. They were refused admission to a public school attended by white children solely because of their race. They sought the aid of the District Court for the District of Columbia in obtaining admission but the district court dismissed the students' complaint.
Does racial segregation of public schools violate the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment?
The Court found that segregation in public education was not reasonably related to any proper governmental objective, and thus it imposed on petitioners a burden that constituted an arbitrary deprivation of their liberty in violation of the Due Process Clause of U.S. Const. amend. V. Moreover, the Court held that just as the Constitution prohibits the states from maintaining racially segregated public schools under the Equal Protection Clause of U.S. Const. amend. XIV, racial segregation in the public schools of the District of Columbia was a denial of the due process of law under U.S. Const. amend. V.