To what extent did the Supreme Court hinder the development of civil rights for African Americans 1865-1992?

Essay plan on Supreme Court rulings

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To what extent did the Supreme Court hinder the de

Before 1900

Supreme Court rulings before 1900 despite a wave of progressive legislation pushed through by congress were detrimental to the advancement of African Americans.

USA v. Cruishank 1873- overturned the enforcement acts that were meant to ensure implementation of the 14th and 15th ammendments at state level.

Plessy v. Ferguson 1896 - ruled segregation of public facilities consitutional as long as they were "separate but equal". Set a legal precedent until 1954, extended and reinforced segregation and discrimination serving as a barrier for progression. Any rights achieved by African Americans during reconstruction were reversed.

Cummings v. Board of Education 1899 - influenced by the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling, deemed segregation in schools consitutional

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To what extent did the Supreme Court hinder the de

1940s- development and progression?

  • Smith v. Allright 1944
  • Sweatt v. Painter 1950
  • Shelley v. Kraemer 1948

But extent to which implemented and impacted positively is questionable

Acted as a bridge to fundamental rulings of the 50s/ 60s - set the tone for the civil rights movement.

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Brown v. Board 1954

  • Landmark decision which overturned Plessy v. Ferguson- deemed "unconstitutional"
  • Marked a change in the attitudes of Supreme Court- Earl Warren more liberal
  • Insisted on psychological need for integration based on sociological studies brought forward by the NAACP
  • Marked a change in the attitudes of African Americans themselves: began to have faith in the system and used it to their advantage in the years to come
  • Government, particularly presidents could no longer hide behind the pretence of previous rulings.
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To what extent did the Supreme Court hinder the de

However:

  • Was faced with great resistance from state governments and white supremacists (You can change laws but you can't change hearts and minds)
  • Difficulty of implementation (desegregation should take place with "all deliberate speed")
  • Brown v. Board 2 had to take place to enforce the rulings
  • Advances could not have taken place without the painstaking efforts of the NAACP
  • Tensions of the Cold War context and the influence of Earl Warren created a climate favourable to change.

Nevertheless, it was the most influential ruling of the period, marking a new era and influencing a continued wave of progressive rulings.

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1950s and 1960s

Supreme Court rulings continued to help the development of civil rights for African Americans.

  • Browder v. Gayle 1956 - influenced by Montgomery Bus Boycotts ruled segregation on public transport unconstitutional
  • Boynton v. Virginia 1960- ruled that segregated facilities on interstate travel was unconsitutional
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1970s

The progressive wave of rulings by the Supreme Court started to dwindle in the 1970s, perhaps influenced by a shift to the right in government.

  • Shwann v. Charlotte Mecklenburg 1971 - upheld enforced bussing to promote desegegregation

 

  • Milliken v. Bradley 1974- stopped court ordered bussing to promote desegregation

 

  • California v. Bakke 1978- affirmative action gone too far?
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SHANNON BREEN

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