This was in reference to the fact that Mr. Plessey used in his defense, the 13th and 14th amendments as a reason for the unjustified means of segregation laws. Justice Brown does not see the connection and will continue to call it a fallacy to try to connect the two. He continues: “Laws permitting, and even requiring, their separation, in places where they are liable to be brought into contact, do not necessarily imply the inferiority of either race to the other, and have been generally, if not universally, recognized as within the competency of the state legislatures in the exercise of their police power.
The most common instance of this is connected with the establishment of separate schools for white and colored children, which have been held to be a valid exercise of the legislative power even by courts of states where the political rights of the colored race have been longest and most earnestly enforced. Justice Brown also cannot make the connection between separate and unequal.
Justice Brown, as well as the others who voted in the majority, are either too far displaced from the effects and conditions of segregation to see that inferior conditions are more the norm than the exception, or is simply keeping in line with the prevailing ideology of the part of the country in which they once resided. In what becomes one of the more famous portions in the majority opinion, Justice Brown stated: “We consider the underlying fallacy of the plaintiff's argument to consist in the assumption that the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority.
If this be so, it is not by reason of anything found in the act, but solely because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it. ” However, the lone dissenter, Justice Harlan disagrees and is able to see beyond the lies. What is interesting in this lone opinion of dissent is the fact that Justice Harlan is a Southerner. He is also a former slave owner and a former member of the KKK. However, turned away by the excesses of the KKK, Justice Harlan offers a surprising opinion for the time and location of the country in which he lived.
Justice Harlan attacks the aspect of the railroad’s law by stating the importance of a white person to have at his aid, if he so chooses, a maid or other person to assist in his health needs. Segregation puts such an individual’s life in peril. However, the main idea of the dissenting decision, Justice Harlan recognizes the fact that “separate but equal” is rarely that. He stated: “But in view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country, no superior, dominant ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our Constitution is color blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.
In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal under the law. ” The Supreme Court would not be in full agreement of this until 1954 with the decision Brown vs. Board of Education in which segregation was outlawed and the Plessey vs. Ferguson ruling was ruled as unconstitutional. Sadly, there is a great deal of similiarities in these two court cases. First, both Supreme Court decisions have were later recognized to not only be mistakes, but major impediments towards the rights of all American citizens as these cases would prove the assertion that: when one is not free, all are not free, is more than a little applicable.
In Dred Scott, the decision would not be overturned until the Reconstruction amendments; especially the 13th and 14th which defined African Americans as both free from slavery and were citizens of the United States if born in America. Both of these assertions took however, fifteen years to come to fruition. In comparison to the length of time that it took for Plessey vs. Ferguson to be overturned, it was shift and complete. However, in comparison to the idea that the decision should never have been rendered, progress was slow and incomplete.