St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri on May 17, 1954 · Page 2
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri · Page 2

St. Louis, Missouri
Issue Date:
Monday, May 17, 1954
Page 2
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ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH MONDAY, MAY 17. 1954 TEXT OF OPINION: SEGREGATION IS 'INHERENTLY UNEQUAL' 2A Education, Important Function $bf State, Must Be 'Available . To AH on Equal Terms, '.o Separate Children From Others of Sim- ilar Age and Qualifications . . . Solely I Because of Race Generates a Feeling: ofi Inferiority. WASHIXUTUX, May J7 (I P) ' FoHoumg m the text cf the Supreme Courl't unanimcut derision fiscy. written ami delivered by Chief Justice Karl Warren, out-laning racial segregation iu the public schools of the nation: T HESE CASES come to us from the states of Kansas, South Carolina, Virginia and Delaware. They are premised on different facts and different local conditions, but a common .legal question justifies their consideration together in this consolidated opinion. Iu each of these cases, minors of the Negro race, through their legal representatives, seek the aid of the courts in obtaining admission to the public schools of their community on a non-segregated basis. In each instance, they had been denied admission to schools attended by white children under laws requiring ccpermitting segregation according to race. This segregation was -alleged to deprive the planitiffs of the equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment. " "In each of the cases other than the Delaware case, a three-.judge Federal district court de-ifiled relief to the plaintiffs on the. so-called "separate but equal" doctrine announced by this court in Plessy v. Fergu-,sbn. 163 U.S. 537. Under that doctrine, equality of treatment Is accorded when the races are provided substantially equal facilities, even though these facilities be separate. In the Delaware case, the Supreme Court ''of' Delaware adhered to that doctrine, but ordered that the plaintiffs be admitted to the white schools because of their superiority to the Negro schools. " The plaintiffs contend that ' frgrcgated public schools are not "equal" and cannot be made "equal," and that hence ' they are deprived of the equal protection of laws. Because of the obvious importance of the question presented, the court took jurisdiction (footnote 2). Argument was heard tn the 1952 term, and reargument was heard this term on - certain questions propounded by the court (footnote 3). 'Reargument was largely de-Voted to the circumstances surrounding the adoption of the fourteenth amendment in 1868. It rovered exhaustively consideration of the amendment in Congress, ratification by the states, then existing practices in facial segregation, and the views of proponents and opponents of the amendment. This discussion and our own investigation convince us that, although these sources cast some lijfht, it is not enough to resolve the problem with which we are faced. At best, they are inconclusive. Tfte most avid proponents of the "postwar amendments undoubt-" edly intended them to remove all legal distinctions among "all persons born or naturalized in the United States." Their opponents, just as cer- lainly, w ere antagonistic to both ithe letter and the spirit of the amendments and wished them to have the most limited effect. What others in Congress and he, state legislatures had in 'mind cannot be determined with any degree of certainty. An additional reason for ' Uh Inconclusive nature of the 'amendment's history, with respect to segregated schools is ; the status of public education at -that time (foot note 4). In the south, the movement toward free common schools, ". supported by general taxation, ' had not yet taken hold. Education of white children was largely in the hands of private ; groups. Education of Negroes was almost non-existent, and practically all of the race were '. illiterate. In fact, any educa-; tion of Negroes was forbidden ; :,by law in some states. Today, in contrast, many Negroes have achieved out-" standing success in the arts : .and sciences as well as in the ; business and professional ;'--orld. It is true that publio .'education has already advanced further In the north, but the effect of the amend-inent on northern states was V, generally ignored In the Congressional debates. - Even in the north, the conditions of public education did not approximate those existing today. The curriculum was usually rudimentary; ungraded schools i'ere common in rural areas; the school term was but three ' months a year in many states; nd compulsory school attendance was virtually unknown. As "ft consequence, it is not surprising that there should be so little 'In the history of the Fourteenth Amendment relating to its intended effect on public education. V First Cases. ; In the first cases in this court (construing the Fourteenth Amendment, decided shortly Rafter its adoption, the court interpreted it as proscribing ail "State - imposed discriminations j&gainst the Negro race (footnote -3'. The doctrine of "separate hut equal" did not make its ap-.'pearance in this court until 1896 ;in the case of Plessy V. Ferguson, supra, involving not education but transportation foot note 8. American courts have since labored with the doctrine for over half a century. In this court, there have been tlx cases involving the "separate Jrot equal" doctrine in the field of public education (foot note In dimming v. County Board of Education. 175 U.S. 528, and Gong Lum v. Rice, 275 -U.S. 78, the validity of the doctrine itself was not challenged (loot note 8'. In more recent cases, all on the graduate school level, inequality was found in that specif if benefits enjoyed by white students were denied to Negro fucents of the same education- 1 qualifications. Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Vanada. 305 US 337; Sipuel v. Oklahoma, 332 U.S. 631; Sweatt v. Painter. 339 U.S. 629; McLaurin v. Okla homa State regents, 339 U.S. 637. In none of these cases was it necessary to re-examine the doctrine to grant relief to the Negro plaintiff. And in Sweatt v. Painter, supra, the court expressly reserved decision on the question whether Plessy v. Ferguson should be held inapplicable to public education. In the instant cases, that question is directly presented. Here, unlike Sweatt v. Painter, there are findings below that the Negro and white schools involved have been equalized, or are being equalized, with respect to buildings, curricula, qualifica tions and salaries of teachers, and other "tangible" factors (footnote 9). Our decision, therefore, cannot turn on merely a comparison of these tangible factors In the Negro and white schools involved in each of the cases. We must look instead to the effect of segregation itself on public education. In approaching this problem, we cannot turn the clock back to 1868 when the amendment was adopted, or even to 1896 when Plessy V. Ferguson was written. We must consider public education in the lights of its full development and its present place in American life throughout the nation. Only in this way can it be determined if segregation in public schools deprives these plaintiffs of the equal protection of the laws. Today, education Is perhaps the most important function of state and local Governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society. It is required In the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very foundation of food citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his enviroment. In these days, it Is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms. 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. In Sweatt v. Painter, supra, in finding that a segregated law school for Negroes could not provide them equal educational opportunities, this court relied in large part on "those qualities which are incapable of objective measurement but which make for greatness in a law school." In McLaurin v. Oklahoma State regents, supra, the court, in requiring that a Negro admitted to a white graduate school be treated like all other students, again resorted to intangible consideration: ". . . his ability to study, to engage in discussions and exchange views with other students, and, in general, to learn his profession." Such considerations apply with added force to children in grade and high schools. To separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their rare generates a feeling of Inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone. The effect of this separation on their educational opportuni ties was well stated by a findinR in the Kansas case by a court which nevertheless felt compelled to rule against the Negro plaintiffs: "Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction' of the law; for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the Negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to retard the educational and mental development of Negro children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racially inte- prated school system." (Footnote 10.'. Whatever may have been the extent of psychological knowledge at the time of Plessy v. i Ferguson, this finding is amply supported by modern authority i Footnote 11.) any language in Plessy v. Ferguson contrary to this finding is rejected. conclude that in the field of public education the A tf t r I rt nf 's am a rat a Vint equal" has no puce, separate educational facilities are in h"ntiy unequal. ! Therfnrp. we hold that thp j Plaintiffs and others similarly have been brought are, by rea son of the segregation com plained of, deprived of the equal protection cf the laws guaran teed by the Fourteenth Amend' ment. This disposition makes unnecessary any discussion whether such segregation also violates the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment IFoot-note 12.). Because these are class actions, complex because of the wide applicability of this decision, and because of the great variety of local conditions, the formulation of decrees in these cases presents problems of considerable complexity. On re-argument, the consideration of appropriate relief was neces sarily subordinated to the primary question the constitutionality of segregation in public education. We have now announced that such segregation is a denial of the equal protection of the laws. In order that we may have the full assistance of the parties in formulating decrees, the cases will be restored to the docket, and the parties are requested to present further argument on Questions 4 and 5 previously propounded by the court for the reargument this term (Foot note 13). The Attorney General of the United States is again invited to participate. The Attorneys Gen eral of the States requiring or permitting segregation in public education will also be permitted to appear as amid curiae upon request to do so by Sept. 15, 1954, and submission of briefs by Oct. 1, 1954 (Footnote 14). It is so ordered. The Footnotes The text of the numbered footnotes, noted parnthetically above follows: (D In the Kansas case, Brown vs. Board of Education, the plaintiffs are Negro children of elementary school age residing in Topeka. They brought this action in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas to enjoin enforcement of a Kansas statute which permits, but does not require, cities of more than 15,000 population to maintain separate school facilities for Negro and white students. Kan. Gen. Stat. Section 72-1724 (1949). Pursuant to that authority, the Topeka Board of Education elected to establish segregated elementary schools. Other public schools in the community, however, are operated on a non-segregated basis. The three-judge district court, convened under 28 U.S.C. sec tions 2281 and 2284. found that segregation in public education has a detrimental effect upon Negro children, but denied relief on the ground that the Negro and white schools were substantially equal with respect to buildings, transportation, curricula, and educational qualifi cations of teachers. 98 F. Supp, 797. The case is here on direct open a SAVINGS ACCOUNT at MUTUAL BANK and receive FREE MUTUAL'S NEW PLASTIC IOTUAI Segregation J'.l JH Associated Preas Wirephoto. Lawyers who pleaded case against segregation in public schools congratulate one another today as they leave Supreme Court Building in Washington after decision upholding their arguments. They are (from left): GEORGE E. C. HAYES, THURGOOD MARSHALL and JAMES M. NABRIT. appeal under 28 U.S.C. section 1253. In the South Carolina case, Briggs v. Elliott, the plaintiffs are Negro children of both elementary and high school age residing in Clarendon county. They brought this action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of South Carolina to enjoin enforcement of provisions in the state consti tution and statutory code which require the segregation of Ne groes and whites in public schools. S.C. Const., Art. XI., Section 7; S.C. Code Section 5377 (1942). The three-judge District Court, convened under 28 U.S.C. Sections 2281 and 2284, denied the requested relief. The court found that the Negro schools were inferior to the white schools and ordered the defendants to begin immediately to equalize the facilities. But the court sustained the. validity of 1 v- Belton, the plaintiffs are Nettie contested provisions and children of both elementary denied the plaintiffs admission and n'8h school age residing in to the white schools during the i New Castle county. They brought equalization program. 98 F. Supp. 529. This court vacated the District Court's judgment and remanded the case for the purpose of obtaining the court's views on a report filed by the defendants concerning the progress made in the equalization program. 342 U. S. 350. On remand, the District Court found that substantial equality had been achieved except for buildings j and that the defendants were u e cnnaren, on me grouna proceeding to rectify this in-' that tne Ne8ro schools were inequality as well. 103 F. Supp. i ferior wi,h respect to teacher 920. The case is again here on j training, pupil-teacher ratio, ex- direct appeal under 28 U.S.C. section 1253. In the Virginia case, Davis v. county school board, the plaintiffs are Negro children of high school age residing in Prince Edward county. They brought this action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to enjoin enforcement of provisions in the state constitution and statutory code which require the segregation of Negroes and whites in public schools. FCI FAST RELIABLE SERVICE Aln 1-2211 OUVI (1) ROCKET BANK pennies nickels . . . dimes or quarters. Opan Mondoy NighH 'til 1p.m. Suit Lawyers Va. Const., 140; Va. Code 22-221 (1950). The three-judge District Court, convened under 28 U.S.C 2281 and 2284, denied the requested relief. The court found the Negro school Inferior in physical plant, curricula, and transportation, and ordered the defendants forthwith to provide substantially equal curricula and transportation and4to "proceed with all reasonable diligence and dispatch to remove" the inequality in physical plant. But, as in the South Carolina case, the court sustained the validity of the contested provisions and denied the plainitffs admission to the white schools during the equalization program. 103 F. Supp. 337. The case is here on direct appeal under 28 j U.S.C. 1253. Delaware Case. In the Delaware case, Gebhart this action in the Delaware Court of Chancery to enjoin enforcement of provisions in the state constitution and statutory code which require the segregation of Negroes and whites in public schools. Del. Const., Art. X, 2; Del. Rev. Code 2631 (1935). The chancellor gave judgment for the plaintiffs and ordered their immediate admission to schools previously attended only tra-curricular activities, physical plant, and time and distance involved in travel. 87A. 2D 862. The chancellor also found that segregation itself results in an inferior education for Negro children (see note 10, infra), but did not rest his decision on that ground. ID., at 865. The chancellor's decree was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Delaware, which intimated, however, that the defendants might be able to obtain a modification of the decree after equalization of the ORCHIDS For the ftradwtt 2.50 and yp Phonf PR. 1-9600 NETTIE'S " 3801 S. Grond Open Weekday I A.M. 'til I r.M. IAMC and TOD 716 LOCUST STREET Negro and while schools had been accomplished. 91 A. 2D 137, 152. The defendants, contending only, that the Delaware courts had erred in ordering the immediate admission of the Negro plaintiffs to the white schools, applied to this court for certiorari. The writ was wanted, 344 U.S. 891. The plaintiffs, who were successful below, did not submit a cross-petition. 2i 344, U. S. 1. 141,891. (3) 345 U. S. 972. The attor ney general of the United States participated both terms amicus curiae. (4) for a general study of the development of public education prior to the amendment, see Butts and Cremin, a History of Education in American Culture (1953), Pts. I, II; Cubbcrley. Public Education in the United States (1934 Ed.), CC. II-XII. School practices current at the time of the adoption of the fourteenth amendment are described in Butts and Crimen, supra, at 269-275; Cubberley, supra, at 288-339. 408-431; Knight, Public Education in The South (1922). CC. VIII, IX. See also H. Ex. Doc. No. 315, Forty-first Cong., 2d Sess. (1871). Although the demand for free public schools followed substantially the same pattern in both the North and the South, the development in the South did not begin to gain momentum un til about 1850, some twenty years after that in the north. The reasons for the somewhat slow er development in the South (E. G., the rural character of the south and the different regional attitudes toward state assistance) are well explained in Cubberley, supra, at 408-423. Effect of War. In the country as a whole, but particularly in the South, the war virtually stopped all prog ress in public education. Id., at 427-428. The low status of Ne gro education in all sections of the country, both before and immediately after the war, is described in Beale, A History of Freedom of Teaching in Ameri can Schools (1941). 112-132, 175-195. Compulsory school attendance laws were not generally adopted until after the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, and it was not until 1918 that such laws were in force in all the states. Cubberley, supra, at 563-565. (5) Slaughter-house cases, 16 Wall. 36, 67-72 (1873); Strauder vs. West Virginia, 100 U.S. 303, 307-308 (1879): ::It ordains that no state shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, or deny to any person within its purisdiction the equal protection of the laws. What is this but declaring that the law in the states shall be the same for the black as for the white; that all persons, whether colored or white, shall stand equal before the iaws of the states, and, in regard to the colored race, for whose protection the amendment was primarily designed, that no discrimination shall be made against them by law because of their color? The words of the amendment, it is true, are prohibitory, but they contain a necessary Implication of a positive immunity, or right, most valuable to the colored race the right to exemption from unfriendly legislation against them distinctively as colored mil it i i.i mi feirtlnrHl 1 mmm Birchcraft for Young Modtrni OPCN tVENINGS TO 9 SAT. 'TIL t All Deposits Insured Up to $10,000.00 ST W. Background of Cases Involved In School Segregation Decision All Deep-Rooted in State Law and Local Custom and Presented Momentous Question. WASHINGTON. May 17 (UP" c!Fniinwin. tn brief, are the backgrounds of the segregation cases involved in today's Supreme Court decision. The cases are deep-rooted in state law aim Islomftnd pmemcd" to the court one of the most momentous questions in its annals. The South Carolina case had been before the court once before because of a suit brought by Negro parents and pupils against segregation in school district 22 in Clarendon county. In that suit, brought against the school district, a three-maiv federal court in 1951 ruled unanimously that the district's Negro schools were inferior to those of the whites and directed equal facilities be provided in line with the "separate but equal" doctrine, as quickly as possible. At the same time, however, two of the judges expressed the opinion that segregation, itself, was constitutional. This part of the ruling was taken to the Supreme Court by the Negroes. The Supreme Court directed that the case be returned to the lower court for further litigation. In Marcn 1952, after a second hearing, the three-judge court found that satisfactory progress was being made toward equalizing school facilities and sustained segregation. Again the Negroes appealed to the Supreme Court. The Virginia case originated in Prince Edward county. High schools were involved. In March 1952 a three-judge federal court ordered county authorities to order school officials to see that white and Negro schools were equalized with all "reasonable diligence and speed." At the same time it upheld segregation as required by Virginia law and described exemption from legal discrimina tions, implying inferiority, in civil society, lessening the se curity of their enjoyment of the rights which others enjoy, and discriminations which are steps towards reducing them to a condition of a subject ra&e." See also Virginia vs Rives, 100 U.S. 313, (1879); ex parte Virginia, 100 U.S. 339, 344-345 (1879). (6) The doctrine apparently originated in Roberts vs. City of Boston, 59 Mass. 198, 206 DRAPERIES 1m Expertly Handled and Delivered Quickly Serving North St. fil FflFiirRS 0F F,NE 'few UkLNIilUlltJ FABRICS and o;vry mimVa ci6ANeKs of fiN8 pkics "" " The children will love its bright colors and mechanical "rocket action" Launch an account at Mutual Ban and watch your savings rocct! Its easy and it's fun to teach children to save with this new Rocct Ban. The lids love its bright colors and rocct shape. When they press the trigger the pilot fires the coin . . . zing! . . . rt'sjlit through a slot into the bow of the rocct! And its FREE while our supply lasts . . . tt'tth every new savings account opened at Mutual Ban. There's a choice of four beau Uful colors: yellow, red, green and metallic. Open an account tomorrow , . . and tac home a Rocct Ban for the .children. They'll love it! t Commercial Banking Facilities. , the practice as "a way of life ! which did no naim 10 euner i aie- . . . The Kansas case originated la 19")1 in Topeka. the state capital, where segregation was prac- Uced only , in the elementary SCIIOOIS 111 KCtpn'B law permitting certain areas to ' impose segregation if they to desired. This law applied 'to, cities of more than 15,000 population, of which there are only' a handful in the state. A three -judge federal court-upheld the constitutionality of, the Kansas law and segregation 1 in Topeka but observed that segregation is "detrimental." The Delaware case differed from the other four. In this litigation a state court ordered admission of Negroes to two white , schools in Wilmington on the' ground that the Negro schools were not the equal of the white schools. This opinion was upheld by a ! ctflt, ennrpme court but it did i nnt pass on (le constitutionality j of segregation. The State of , Delaware appealed to the United , states Supreme Court to upset' . C()urt ordcr admitting' the Negro children to the white schools. 1 In the District cf Columbia case, several Negro children appealed to the United States district court to force District of Columbia school authorities to admit them to Sousa Junior High School, after they had been turned down for admission In September 1950. U. S. District Judge Walter M. Bastian dismissed their plea, In line with a United States court of Appeals decision which upheld the "separate but equal" doctrine in earlier and similar cases which had been heard here. (1849), upholding school segregation against attack as being violative of a state constitutional guarantee of equality. Segregation in Boston public schools was eliminated in 1855. Mass. acts 1855, C. 258. But elsewhere in the north segregation in public education has persisted until recent years. It is apparent that such segregation has long been a nationwide problem, not merely one of sectional concern. (7) See also Berea College vs. Continued on Page 5, Column 4. Louis Since 1922 CHestnut 1-5144 J9fft ant Soisbur him si mm. :l 1 If! Mtmbor Ftdtrol fttttrv Syiltm Wombtr ftdtrol DtpoiI (muronc Ccrporofio 0 it

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