In 1943, Alejandro Bernal, a native Californian, and his family moved to a house on Ash Avenue in the Sunnyside neighborhood of Fullerton. Bernal’s neighbors in this predominantly white community feared that the presence of Mexicans in their neighborhood would lower their property values.
Failing to prevent them from moving in, the white residents filed an injunction against the family, requesting their removal from the house. They relied on a clause written into the deeds of lots for sale in Fullerton neighborhoods that supported residential segregation in housing covenants. The Bernals refused to vacate their new home, and sought redress in court.
On August 24, 1943, Judge Albert A. Ross of the OC Superior Court rendered a decision in the case of Doss et al v. Bernal et al, ensuring the Bernals’ right to keep their home. In reaching his decision, Judge Ross confirmed his constitutional objection to racially restrictive covenants against Mexicans as violative of the 14th Amendment. These same legal arguments would serve as persuasive precedent in overturning racial covenants on a national level, and formed the basis for overturning the educational segregation of California’s Mexican students in Mendez v. Westminster