Welcome to the fourth part of the 15-part mini series where we examine College Board's list of the supposed 15 most important SCOTUS cases in US History!
Our SCOTUS case for this week is... Brown V. Board of Education!!!
Background: Multiple African American students in the states of Kansas, Virginia, South Carolina, Delaware and Washington D.C. were denied admittance to many schools because of their race. These decisions often forcing them to go far out of their way to attend a school that admitted African American students. Thurgood Marshall, a lawyer and former Supreme Court associate justice, argued that this idea violated the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment. He took in cases from all over the country and decided to represent them all by taking Linda Brown's case to the Supreme Court. Originally, some had argued that the "Separate but equal" (the ruling from an earlier case: Plessy V. Ferguson) would apply to this situation too, but the ruling went a bit differently.
Basic Overview of the Case: The case was at first put on hold because many of the Supreme Court members couldn't come to a decision, but eventually, Chief Justice Warren decided to pick the case back up again. Justice Warren did not believe that "separate but equal" was constitutional, but knew that he would have to do a lot of convincing to make his fellow justices feel the same. Warren knew that the decision had to be unanimous if the Court wanted to persuade states that the ruling was valid, so he drafted and redrafted arguments to persuade his other justices. The final decision Warren wrote was unanimously agreed upon by the Court it said; Separate but equal did not apply to educational settings because the separation made some feel inherently inferior, thus affecting their learning environment and capabilities.
How has this Case Impacted U.S. History?: This case set a new precedent that eventually overtook the one set by Plessy V. Ferguson. It was a turning point for "separate but equal" to be struck down in all situations rather than just educationally. The ruling of this case helped push along the Civil Rights Act and establish a wider interpretation of the Equal Protections Clause of the 14th Amendment.
Does this Case Deserve to be on the List?: Absolutely, I think this case was vital to creating and pushing Civil Rights to a better place for all people in this country, and was a necessary decision to attempt to overrule the terrible decision made in Plessy V. Ferguson.