Monday, January 17, 2005

He'd be proud, part II

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

Brown v. Board of Education, 349 U.S. 294 (1955) (USSC+)

Reargued on the question of relief April 11-14, 1955

Opinion and judgments announced May 31, 1955


APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF KANSAS.

Syllabus

1. Racial discrimination in public education is unconstitutional, 347 U.S. 483 , 497, and all provisions of federal, state or local law requiring or permitting such discrimination must yield to this principle.

2. The judgments below (except that in the Delaware case) are reversed and the cases are remanded to the District Courts to take such proceedings and enter such orders and decrees consistent with this opinion as are necessary and proper to admit the parties to these cases to public schools on a racially nondiscriminatory basis with all deliberate speed.

(a) School authorities have the primary responsibility for elucidating, assessing and solving the varied local school problems which may require solution in fully implementing the governing constitutional principles.

(b) Courts will have to consider whether the action of school authorities constitutes good faith implementation of the governing constitutional principles.

(c) Because of their proximity to local conditions and the possible need for further hearings, the courts which originally heard these cases can best perform this judicial appraisal.

(d) In fashioning and effectuating the decrees, the courts will be guided by equitable principles -- characterized by a practical flexibility in shaping remedies and a facility for adjusting and reconciling public and private needs.

(e) At stake is the personal interest of the plaintiffs in admission to public schools as soon as practicable on a nondiscriminatory basis.

(f) Courts of equity may properly take into account the public interest in the elimination in a systematic and effective manner of a variety of obstacles in making the transition to school systems operated in accordance with the constitutional principles enunciated in 347 U.S. 483 , 497; but the vitality of these constitutional principles cannot be allowed to yield simply because of disagreement with them.

(g) While giving weight to these public and private considerations, the courts will require that the defendants make a prompt and reasonable start toward full compliance with the ruling of this Court.

(h) Once such a start has been made, the courts may find that additional time is necessary to carry out the ruling in an effective manner.

(i) The burden rests on the defendants to establish that additional time is necessary in the public interest and is consistent with good faith compliance at the earliest practicable date.

(j) The courts may consider problems related to administration, arising from the physical condition of the school plant, the school transportation system, personnel, revision of school districts and attendance areas into compact units to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis, and revision of local laws and regulations which may be necessary in solving the foregoing problems.

(k) The courts will also consider the adequacy of any plans the defendants may propose to meet these problems and to effectuate a transition to a racially nondiscriminatory school system.

(l) During the period of transition, the courts will retain jurisdiction of these cases.

3. The judgment in the Delaware case, ordering the immediate admission of the plaintiffs to schools previously attended only by white children, is affirmed on the basis of the principles stated by this Court in its opinion, 347 U.S. 483 , but the case is remanded to the Supreme Court of Delaware for such further proceedings as that Court may deem necessary in the light of this opinion.

Opinion

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WARREN delivered the opinion of the Court.
These cases were decided on May 17, 1954. The opinions of that date, declaring the fundamental principle that racial discrimination in public education is unconstitutional, are incorporated herein by reference. All provisions of federal, state, or local law requiring or permitting such discrimination must yield to this principle. There remains for consideration the manner in which relief is to be accorded.

Because these cases arose under different local conditions and their disposition will involve a variety of local problems, we requested further argument on the question of relief. In view of the nationwide importance of the decision, we invited the Attorney General of the United States and the Attorneys General of all states requiring or permitting racial discrimination in public education to present their views on that question. The parties, the United States, and the States of Florida, North Carolina, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Maryland, and Texas filed briefs and participated in the oral argument.

These presentations were informative and helpful to the Court in its consideration of the complexities arising from the transition to a system of public education freed of racial discrimination. The presentations also demonstrated that substantial steps to eliminate racial discrimination in public schools have already been taken, not only in some of the communities in which these cases arose, but in some of the states appearing as amici curiae, and in other states as well. Substantial progress has been made in the District of Columbia and in the communities in Kansas and Delaware involved in this litigation. The defendants in the cases coming to us from South Carolina and Virginia are awaiting the decision of this Court concerning relief.

Full implementation of these constitutional principles may require solution of varied local school problems. School authorities have the primary responsibility for elucidating, assessing, and solving these problems; courts will have to consider whether the action of school authorities constitutes good faith implementation of the governing constitutional principles. Because of their proximity to local conditions and the possible need for further hearings, the courts which originally heard these cases can best perform this judicial appraisal. Accordingly, we believe it appropriate to remand the cases to those courts.

In fashioning and effectuating the decrees, the courts will be guided by equitable principles. Traditionally, equity has been characterized by a practical flexibility in shaping its remedies and by a facility for adjusting and reconciling public and private needs. These cases call for the exercise of these traditional attributes of equity power. At stake is the personal interest of the plaintiffs in admission to public schools as soon as practicable on a nondiscriminatory basis. To effectuate this interest may call for elimination of a variety of obstacles in making the transition to school systems operated in accordance with the constitutional principles set forth in our May 17, 1954, decision. Courts of equity may properly take into account the public interest in the elimination of such obstacles in a systematic and effective manner. But it should go without saying that the vitality of these constitutional principles cannot be allowed to yield simply because of disagreement with them.

While giving weight to these public and private considerations, the courts will require that the defendants make a prompt and reasonable start toward full compliance with our May 17, 1954, ruling. Once such a start has been made, the courts may find that additional time is necessary to carry out the ruling in an effective manner. The burden rests upon the defendants to establish that such time is necessary in the public interest and is consistent with good faith compliance at the earliest practicable date. To that end, the courts may consider problems related to administration, arising from the physical condition of the school plant, the school transportation system, personnel, revision of school districts and attendance areas into compact units to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis, and revision of local laws and regulations which may be necessary in solving the foregoing problems. They will also consider the adequacy of any plans the defendants may propose to meet these problems and to effectuate a transition to a racially nondiscriminatory school system. During this period of transition, the courts will retain jurisdiction of these cases.

The judgments below, except that, in the Delaware case, are accordingly reversed, and the cases are remanded to the District Courts to take such proceedings and enter such orders and decrees consistent with this opinion as are necessary and proper to admit to public schools on a racially nondiscriminatory basis with all deliberate speed the parties to these cases. The judgment in the Delaware case -- ordering the immediate admission of the plaintiffs to schools previously attended only by white children -- is affirmed on the basis of the principles stated in our May 17, 1954, opinion, but the case is remanded to the Supreme Court of Delaware for such further proceedings as that Court may deem necessary in light of this opinion.

It is so ordered.

 

RELATED CASES

In the 1930's. Charles Hamilton Houston, special counsel for the NAACP, instituted a strategy for challenging segregation in education through the courts. These major cases in the years before 1951, paved the way for Brown v. Board of Education.

Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada (1938)
The University of Missouri refused to admit Lloyd Gaines to its law school because it believed the school was only for whites. It was common for the state to send black students to neighboring states for courses of study not offered in the black schools. Since Missouri did not have a separate and equal law school for African Americans, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Gaines must be allowed to attend the University of Missouri Law School.

Sipuel v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma (1948)
When Ada Lois Sipuel was denied entry to law school, the University set up a "class" overnight with 3 instructors, 3 classrooms, and separate access to the law library at the state capital. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this was illegal, and she was finally allowed to enroll.

McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (1950)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that George W. McLaurin, a student who was required to eat and study at separate tables, must be treated the same as white students. Chief Justice Fred Vinson said in the ruling that separate accommodations denied McLaurin "his personal and present rights to equal protection of the laws" under the 14th Amendment. Continuing, Vinson said "McLaurin must receive the same treatment...as students of other races."

Sweatt v. Painter (1950)
This case was an important predecessor to Brown v. Board of Education, because the U.S. Supreme Court decided 9-0 that the "separate but equal" doctrine established in the Plessy case was unworkable and ultimately doomed.

 

3 comments:

vernae69 said...

The world is a better place because of him.  Thank you for honoring him.

thelovetrain said...

"Yo Dr. King!"

When I first moved from Illinois, to Florida with my parents, at he age of thirteen (1970), I had the first under-privilege of seeing segregated restrooms at a restaurant/fish camp, in Saint Augustine, Florida. I must have spent fifteen-minutes looking at the paintings on four bathroom doors,-- Two light male/female fishes, and two dark ones. I recall being astounded, even at that age.

... I spent my first eight years of life on the north side of Chicago, where I was the only Caucasian kid in sight, and I dearly loved my childhood friends.

~Brother Brian

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st0rmwhispers said...

What a perfect tribute...you educated many today.