Thursday, November 14, 2013

Brown v. Board of Education (Brown I) case brief

Brown v. Board of Education (Brown I) case brief summary
347 U.S. 483 (1954)

Plaintiff African-American minors challenged the judgment of the United States District Court for the District of Kansas that, although it held that segregation in public education had a detrimental effect upon African-American children, denied relief on the ground that the schools were substantially equal with respect to buildings, transportation, curricula, and educational qualifications of teachers.

By consolidated opinion, the Court reviewed four state cases in which African-American minors sought 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 Caucasian children under laws requiring or permitting segregation according to race. This segregation was alleged to deprive the minors of the equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment.


  • In each case, except the Delaware case, the district court denied relief to the minors on the "separate but equal" doctrine announced by the Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537. 
  • The minors contended that the public schools were not equal and could not be made equal, thereby denying them equal protection of the law. 
  • The common legal question among the cases was whether Plessy should be held inapplicable to public education and whether segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other tangible factors were equal, deprived the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities. 
  • The Court held in the affirmative as to both.

The Court overturned Plessy v. Ferguson and the "separate but equal" doctrine, finding that it had no place in public education. Segregation was a denial of the equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment. Separate educational facilities were inherently unequal.

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