Brown v. Board of Education, and the saliency of substantive due process in the fourteenth amendment  




The legal desegregation of public schools was initiated largely in Brown v. Board of Education. A case, as described by a Supreme Court reporter, as a case concerning “Negro plaintiffs who sought to obtain admission to public schools.” It was concluded that a denial of the fundamental right to education on the basis of race was an infringement of equal protection, (U.S. const. amendment 14). Brown v. Board of Education is one of the most salient example of the desegregation litigation circa Brown V. Board of Education. Other cases similar are cases that extended the right to “one man one vote” to all, and furthering the right to one vote to those of color. The rise of public law litigation and the role of the “activist” was praised by political liberals and decried by conservatives.


Made substantive by U.S. constitutional amendment 14, more specifically the equal protection clause, the doctrine preceding racially integrated schools of “separate but equal” had no place in the field of public education because separate facilities are inherently unequal. It was also found that the segregation of students in schools on the basis of race exclusively, even though the physical facilities may be equal and tangible items similar, deprives minority children of certain opportunities.


Brown V. Board of Education was monumental in that it was the beginning of the end of the term “separate but equal” as a defense of racially segregated schools. The Supreme Court determined that assuming racially segregated schools are separate but equal, the practice of racially segregating schools was a fundamental deprivation of equal protection. The plaintiff’s reason that separate schools on the basis of race are not “equal” and therefore are a fundamental deprivation of equal protection. Given the enumerated information that the plaintiff argued that segregated schools deprived minorities of equal protection, and moreover the apparent knowledge that equal protection is a clause in the constitution, this case constitutes a substantive due process. Since the imperative duty of the court system to resolve injustices in our jurisprudence, and in this instance the constitution, substantive due process warrant’s no interference of the government in this case. If the plaintiffs did not raise the deprivation of equal protection the desegregation of schools could have been prevented by the board of education because without substantive due process government interference is possible.



In the Delaware case, the Supreme Court of Delaware adhered to the doctrine that the institution of racially segregated schools did not violate equal protection because of the notion of a “separate but equal” education system. The court also decided that the segregation of white and color children has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The court reasoned that the segregation of schools based on race deprives colored students of the opportunities and benefits of white schools. The constitution of the United States forbids, so far as civil and political rights are concerned, discrimination by the general government, or by the states, against any citizen because of his race. Moreover, classification based exclusively upon race are to be scrutinized because they are contrary to the American traditions of adhering to our laws and basing our jurisprudence off of equality and respect for human life.


What does the term “liberty” mean, when used in a constitutional context? It certainly is not defined exclusively by freedom from bodily restraint, whereas it extends to the complete spectrum of conduct which the individual is able to pursue, and it cannot be restricted or infringed except for the purpose of a proper government objective.







What I find remarkable about Brown v. Board of Education, is the impartiality the judges presiding was most likely using while deciding this case. I understand that it is compulsory that judges always decide impartially, but when matters such as the very foundation of our education system arise, the judge presiding could have purposefully interpreted the subject matter to fit his personal interests, but most likely he or she didn’t. Brown v. Board of Education represents a social and legal turning point in American history that redefined not only our education system but also how we correlate the constitution with segregation in a coherent way. That might sound very trivial but think about this from a separate perspective. At one time in our jurisprudence legal scholars and judges viewed segregation and even slavery as constitutional. This fundamentally different view had absolutely no legally substantive reasoning. But this change in American jurisprudence illustrated how we can interpret the constitution to work for us, and not for justice.


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