The legal system of the United States of America has been extremely busy over the last 350 years or so. Several millions of cases have been brought in front of courts across America. Some have had more importance than others. A few court cases have changed the very fabric of our country and have set precedents which have become foundation pieces of our legal system. One such case is Brown v. Board of Education.
Who, What, When, Where, Why
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was brought to the Supreme Court of the United States in 1952. The named plaintiff of the class action suit, one Oliver L. Brown, represented a group of 20 children who were students in Topeka, Kansas. The Topeka Board of Education operated racially segregated elementary schools. This was legal under a Kansas law dating back to 1879. Prior to filing the suit, the parents of the 20 children attempted to enroll their kids in the elementary school closest to their neighborhood. This was an ‘all white’ school. The children were rejected enrollment and directed to a segregated school. This rejection became the basis for the class action lawsuit.
Results and Rulings
Brown v. Board of Education gradually worked its way up the court system before it was heard, along with 5 other cases, by the Supreme Court. Initially, the Supreme Court was unable to reach a decision. It reheard the cases later in 1953. This time, a unanimous decision was reached. The Supreme Court stated:
“We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal”
They later stated that the plaintiffs were protected from segregation and the deprivation of equal rights by the Fourteenth Amendment. Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka created a new standard for equality in the United States and paved the way for further reform in the coming decades.