Monday, May 17, 2010


On this date in 1954, the United States Supreme Court hands down a unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.

From Wikipedia:
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court that declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students and denying black children equal educational opportunities unconstitutional. The decision overturned earlier rulings going back to Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896. Handed down on May 17, 1954, the Warren Court's unanimous (9–0) decision stated that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." As a result, de jure racial segregation was ruled a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. This victory paved the way for integration and the civil rights movement.

The most common misconception about Brown v. Board of Education is that the case is solely about Linda Brown and whether she should or should not be able to attend the school nearest her home. In fact, Brown was a consolidation of five different cases, from four states, all of which dealt with the same issue. (A similar case from the District of Columbia was handled separately.) Linda Brown was merely the "poster child," as it were, for some 200 plaintiffs altogether. A dozen attorneys and countless community activists were involved in effort to eliminate "de jure" racial segregation in the public schools.

The case of Brown v. Board of Education as heard before the Supreme Court combined five cases: Brown itself, Briggs v. Elliott (filed in South Carolina), Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County (filed in Virginia), Gebhart v. Belton (filed in Delaware), and Bolling v. Sharpe (filed in Washington D.C.).

John W. Davis argued the case for "Briggs v. Elliott" in front of the Supreme Court....


"Separate But Equal"

Burt Lancaster
From Wikipedia:
John William Davis (April 13, 1873 – March 24, 1955) was an American politician, diplomat and lawyer. He served as an United States Representative from West Virginia (1911–1913), then as Solicitor General of the United States and U.S. Ambassador to the UK under President Woodrow Wilson. Over a 60-year legal career, he argued 140 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Davis is best known as the Democratic Party nominee for President of the United States during the 1924 presidential election, losing to Republican incumbent Calvin Coolidge. He is regarded as the last conservative nominated by the Democratic Party for President. Davis' legal career is most remembered for his final appearance before the Supreme Court, in which he unsuccessfully defended the "separate but equal" doctrine in Briggs v. Elliott, a companion case to Brown v. Board of Education. Davis, as an advocate to the defense of racial segregation, uncharacteristically displayed his emotions in arguing that South Carolina had shown good faith in attempting to eliminate any inequality between black and white schools and should be allowed to continue to do so without judicial intervention. He expected to win, most likely through a divided Supreme Court, even after the matter was re-argued after the death of Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson. He declined the fee that South Carolina offered him after the Court ruled against it unanimously


No comments: