A Case Report on Supreme Court Decisions - Education Essay Example

The Supreme Court has made decisions that have been important in shaping the interpretation of the Constitution - A Case Report on Supreme Court Decisions introduction. “The Framers of the Constitution intended for the Supreme Court to stand between the two branches of the national government and the people, to prevent abuses of power and improper interpretations of the Constitution (Mott, 2008). The case of Brown vs. Board of Education, 347 U. S. 483 (1954), is an example of when and amendment to the Constitution needed to be interpreted.

The Supreme Court made a very important decision in interpret ting the Constitution, in the case of Brown vs. the Board of Education. In Topeka, Kansas a black third-grader by the name Linda Brown had to walk one mile to school to get to her black elementary school, even though there was a white elementary school only seven blocks away. Her father, Oliver Brown tried to enroll her in the public school near them in which only white children attended. She was denied enrollment, due to no blacks were allowed to be enrolled in an all white school.

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During this time the NAACP had waited quite some time to challenge segregation in public schools. So, when Mr. Brown went to the NAACP for assistance in getting his daughter enrolled in an all white public school, the NAACP was very eager to take the case. “Other black parents joined Brown, and in 1951, the NAACP requested an injunction that would forbid the segregation of Topeka’s public schools” (Cozzens, 1998). The NAACP took their case to the U. S. District Court against the District of Kansas and “argued that segregated public schools sent the message to black children that they were inferior to whites” (Cozzens, 1998), which causes public schools to be considered essentially unequal. The Board of Education argued that segregation in Topeka and other states prepared the black children for the segregation that would face in everyday life and their adulthood. The Board of Education also argued that, successful African Americans like Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and George Washington Carver attended segregated schools and was still able to be great achievers.

The judges heard the arguments of both parties, however they wrote, based upon witnesses testimonies, that “Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children… A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn” (Cozzens, 1998). The judges also remembered the case of Plessy vs. Ferguson in which the Supreme Court ruled separate but equal public school systems for blacks and whites were constitutional. At that time, no Supreme Court ruling had overturned the Plessy vs. Ferguson decision yet.

Based upon the Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1, which was passed by Congress on June 13, 1866, and ratified July 9, 1868, stated that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (United States Constitution, n. . ). Based upon the liberties of the Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1, when it comes to segregating blacks and whites in public schools, the Court would have to make a decision on whether or not the authors of the Fourteenth Amendment had segregating public schools in mind when they wrote the amendment in 1868. They also had to decide if segregating public schools deprived black children equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. In retrospect of the matter, The Fourteenth Amendment was inconclusive as to what its intentions were on public education.

Brown and the NAACP appealed to the Supreme Court on October 1, 1951 with combined cases that challenged school segregation in South Carolina, Virginia, and Delaware. From December 9, 1952 to May 17, 1954 the Supreme Court had arguments and rearguments of the case. After careful review of the Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1, the Supreme Court decided that the “separate but equal” doctrine that was adopted in the Plessy v. Ferguson case, 163 U. S. 537, was unconstitutional and had no place in the field of public education.

The language in the Plessy vs. Ferguson case, similar to the findings of this day is rejected. So on May 17, 1954, Chief Justice Earl Warren read the decision of the unanimous Court, “We come then to the question presented: Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other “tangible” factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does…

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” (Cozzens, 1998). No Supreme Court ruling had been overturned relating to segregation since the Plessy vs. Ferguson decision, but the Supreme Court struck down the “separate but equal” ruling of Plessy for public education and ruled in the favor of the plaintiffs, and mandated the desegregation of schools in America.

This decision confirmed the segregation of public schools that existed in 21 states unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruling which struck down the “separate but equal” ruling of Plessy for public education was a massive step towards total desegregation of public schools. Brown vs. he Board of Education accomplished what it set out to do. This decision by the Supreme Court interpreted the Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1 of the constitution, and fully explained what the constitution’s intentions were on public education. Because of the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1, minorities may now attend any school of their choice and not be turned down because the color of their skin. This decision of the Supreme Court was the first time in which segregation was labeled as unlawful.

This case set forth an example for future cases to desegregate other public facilities. The Supreme Court’s decision enabled blacks to gain civil rights because they were finally legally seen as being worthy of having the same equal rights as whites under the law. To conclude, bad constitutional decisions are far from being the result of the Constitution’s imperfections, but are genuinely caused by the imperfections of judges who depart from it. Supreme Court decisions must not be allowed to get in the way of the bigger question: why are we here?

However, the Supreme Court has made decisions that have been important in shaping the interpretation of the Constitution since “the Framers of the Constitution intended for the Supreme Court to stand between the two branches of the national government and the people, to prevent abuses of power and improper interpretations of the Constitution (Mott, 2008). The case of Brown vs. Board of Education, 347 U. S. 483 (1954), is an example of when the Constitution had to be interpreted. The Supreme Court’s decision, in the case of Brown vs. the Board of Education, was a key factor in interpreting and reshaping the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment.

References

Cozzens, L. (1998, June 29). Brown v. board of education. Retrieved January 24, 2011, from http://www. watson. org/~lisa/blackhistory/early-civilrights/brown. html. Mott, J. , Ph. D. (2008). ThisNation. com. In Supreme court decision making. Retrieved January 24, 2011, from http://www. thisnation. com/textbook/judiciary-decision. html. National Center for Public Policy Research. (2010). Supreme court of the united states. In Brown v. oard of education, 347 U. S. 483 (1954) (USSC+). Retrieved January 24, 2011, from http://www. nationalcenter. org/brown. html. O’Connor, K. & Sabato, L. J. (2009)  American government: Roots and reform 2009 Edition (10th ed. ). New York:  Pearson Education. United States Constitution. (n. d. ). Cornell university law school. In United states constitution. Retrieved January 24, 2011, from http://topics. law. cornell. edu/constitution/amendmentxiv.

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