The Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas
In each of the cases, minors of the Negro race, through their legal representatives, seek the aid of the courts in obtaining admission to the public schools of their community on a nonsegregated basis. In each instance, [347 U.S. 483, 488] they had been denied admission to schools attended by white children under laws requiring or permitting segregation according to race. This segregation was alleged to deprive the plaintiffs of the equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment. In each of the cases other than the Delaware case, a three-judge federal district court denied relief to the plaintiffs on the so-called “separate but equal” doctrine announced by this Court in Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 . Under that doctrine, equality of treatment is accorded when the races are provided substantially equal facilities, even though these facilities be separate. In the Delaware case, the Supreme Court of Delaware adhered to that doctrine, but ordered that the plaintiffs be admitted to the white schools because of their superiority to the Negro schools.
Brown v. The Topeka Board of Education
Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), was a landmark Supreme Court case that overturned the “separate but equal” doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson, 169 U.S. 537 (1896), ruling that blacks and whites be allowed to attend the same public schools. The decision was a major blow to the system of southern de jure segregation, which required by law that blacks and whites be separated in all areas of public facilities, such as waiting rooms, restaurants, hotels, buses and trains, drinking fountains, and even cemeteries.
In approaching this problem, we cannot turn the clock back to 1868 when the Amendment was adopted, or even to 1896 when Plessy v. Ferguson was written. We must consider public education in the light of its full development and its present place in American life throughout [347 U.S. 483, 493] the Nation. Only in this way can it be determined if segregation in public schools deprives these plaintiffs of the equal protection of the laws.
The Board ofEducation, Topeka, KansasThe Supreme Court decision in
But Rabbi Rackman was not just about rhetoric. He was deeply concerned that other Orthodox leaders understand the stakes of American civil rights. Consequently, Rabbi Rackman took full advance of his station when the Supreme Court decided Brown v. Board of Education sixty years ago, on May 17, 1954. The court’s unanimous ruling declared de jure racial segregation illegal. At that time, Rabbi Rackman was chairman of the RCA’s Convention Committee and slated to become the organization’s president at the upcoming gathering. The July convention in Detroit was to take place just two months after the landmark court case and Rabbi Rackman sought to sensitize the 600 Orthodox rabbis and leaders to the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement. A year earlier, the RCA had resolved to back school desegregation, but that was not enough for Rabbi Rackman. So he invited Maxwell M. Rabb, associate counsel to President Eisenhower, to keynote the forthcoming conference.
Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas
The Board of Education's defense was this, because segregation in Topeka and elsewhere pervaded many other aspects of life, segregated schools simply prepared black children for the segregation they would face during adulthood.
Brown v Board of Ed. Topeka Kansas (1954)
In 2006, the Supreme Court reassessed Brown’s legal interpretation in two cases, dealing with Seattle, Washington, and Louisville, Kentucky. Both cities had color-conscious policies that specifically sought to create a more balanced and racially integrated school system. Although students in each city had school choice, they could be denied admission based on race if their attendance would disrupt the racial balance in the school. On June 27, 2007, the Supreme Court ruled by a 5-4 vote along ideological grounds that school admission programs in Seattle and Louisville violated the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection to individuals. Because this decision stipulates race cannot be used to decide where students go to school, educators believe it may lead many districts to drop efforts at racially balancing schools.
Board of Education of Topeka,Kansas, decision.
Whatever may have been the extent of psychological knowledge at the time of Plessy v. Ferguson, this finding is amply supported by modern authority. 11 Any language [347 U.S. 483, 495] in Plessy v. Ferguson contrary to this finding is rejected.
We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. This disposition makes unnecessary any discussion whether such segregation also violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. 12