Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Case Brief

Facts of the case

This case was the consolidation of cases arising in Kansas, South Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, and Washington D.C. relating to the segregation of public schools on the basis of race. In each of the cases, African American students had been denied admittance to certain public schools based on laws allowing public education to be segregated by race. They argued that such segregation violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The plaintiffs were denied relief in the lower courts based on Plessy v. Ferguson , which held that racially segregated public facilities were legal so long as the facilities for blacks and whites were equal. (This was known as the “separate but equal” doctrine.)

Why is the case important?

Black children were denied admission to schools attended by white children under laws that permitted or required segregation by race. The children sued.

Question

Do separate but equal laws in the area of public education deprive black children of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution)?

ANSWER

Yes.
Chief Justice Earl Warren (J. Warren) stated that even if the “tangible” factors of segregated schools are equal, to separate black children from others of similar age and qualifications solely on the basis of race, generates a feeling of inferiority with respect to their status in the community and may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely to ever be undone.

CONCLUSION

The Court overturned Plessy v. Fergusonand the separate but equaldoctrine, finding that it had no place in public education. Separate educational facilities were inherently unequal and has a detrimental effect upon the African-American children. The Court held that to separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generated a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community.Segregation also had the tendency to retard the educational and mental development of African-American children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racially integrated school system.As a result, segregation is a denial of the equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment .

  • Advocates: Robert L. Carter argued and reargued for the appellants in No. 8 and No. 1 Paul E. Wilson argued and reargued for the appellees in No. 8 and No. 1 Thurgood Marshall argued for the appellants in No. 101,reargued for the appellants in No. 2 and No. 4, and reargued for the respondents in No. 10 John W. Davis argued and reargued for the appellees in No. 101, No. 2 and No. 4 Spottswood Robinson III argued for the appellants in No.191 and reargued for the appellants in No. 2 and No. 4 T. Justin Moore argued and reargued for the appellees in No. 101, No. 2 and No. 4 J. Lindsay Almond, Jr. argued for the appellees in No.191 and reargued for the appellees in No. 2 and No. 4 J. Lee Rankin Assistant Attorney General, Department of Justice, for the United States, as amicus curiae, by special leave of Court in No. 2 and No. 4 H. Albert Young argued and reargued for the petitioners in No. 448 and No. 10 Louis L. Redding argued for the respondents in No. 448 Jack Greenberg argued and reargued for the respondents in No. 448 and No. 10
  • Appellant: Oliver Brown, Mrs. Richard Lawton, Mrs. Sadie Emmanuel, et al.
  • Appellee: Board of Education of Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas, et al.
  • DECIDED BY:Warren Court
  • Location: Monroe School
Citation: 347 US 483 (1954)
Argued: Dec 9 – 11, 1952
ReArgued: Dec 7 – 9, 1953
Decided: May 17, 1954
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Case Brief