BLAW CASES

63 CASES
In each case listed below you will be responsible for understanding…
1. Legal question
2. Ruling of the court, i.e. what rule of law can one derive from the court’s decision?
3. Legal reasoning, i.e. main reasons for the court’s ruling
4. Key precedent cases discussed (if any)

Brown v. Board of Education
COURTS & PRECEDENT

PARTIES AND LEGAL RELIEF REQUESTED
African American students want to be admitted to schools on a non-segregated basis

LEGAL QUESTION
Does the segregation in schools violate the 14th Amendment of equal protection?
REASONING OF THE COURT
The segregation between children based on race in schools (with other facilities and factors the same), deprives the children of the same educational opportunities. The separation gives a message of inferiority to the African American students and thus violates the equal protection laws.

PRECEDENT
The ruling stated that Plessy v. Ferguson ‘s separate but equal clause cannot apply to education.

Plessy v. Ferguson, majority & dissenting opinions
COURTS & PRECEDENT

PARTIES AND LEGAL RELIEF REQUESTED
Homer Plessy, a man who is 7/8th European 1/8th African American, was still considered black under Louisiana legislation. He was detained for sitting in a whites-only car and wanted the Supreme Court to overturn the Louisiana Acts 1890 for separate railway carriages.

LEGAL QUESTION
Does the General Assembly of the State of Louisiana, passed in 1890, providing for separate railway carriages for the white and colored races, Acts 1890, No.111, p.153 violate the Constitution’s Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendment.
REASONING OF THE COURT
The court (7-1) rejected Plessy’s statement that the Louisiana law violated the Thirteenth Amendment (abolished slavery and involuntary servitude. In the Civil Rights cases, 109 U.S. 3,24, stated if a person refused to serve a person of color, it is not right but it is not a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The Fourteen Amendment (prohibiting certain restrictive legislation) was not violated because legal distinction does not mean legal inequality. Since the cars where “separate but equal,” no rights were violated.

PRECEDENT
The “separate but equal” clause was used in future U.S. law decision until Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

DISSENTING/ CONCURRING OPINION
Mr. Justice Harlan dissents. Since the railroad is a public function (Olcott v. The Supervisors, 16 Wall. 678,694), colored and whites should be able to wherever they want on it because they don’t separate colored or whites on the streets, courtrooms or in galleries. The white race deems itself as the dominant race and made the Louisiana law to make the colored race to feel inferior. If the Chinese is allowed to sit with whites, why not the blacks? Louisiana violates the personal liberty that the Constitution provides.