When Charity Meets Racism: The Story of Cy Pres in the United States and England


This Note finds that the main reason for this divergence is the move away from discrimination in U.S. law in the 1950s and beyond.  Courts were confronted with major charitable trusts—such as universities and hospitals—that had discriminatory charters.  Faced with a choice between letting these trusts fail and preserving them, courts generally opted for the latter, which forced them to expand the cy pres doctrine.  This development did not take place in England, because trusts can be altered without court intervention in England, and no one seemed willing to fight for racist trusts in English courts.  The Note concludes with a legislative proposal that could serve to rein in the doctrine in the United States, while at the same time allowing it to alter unacceptably discriminatory trusts.




54 Colum. J. Transnat'l L. 502