Saturday, December 7, 2013

Cooper v. Aaron case brief

Cooper v. Aaron case brief summary
358 U.S. 1 (1958)

Petitioners, the Little Rock School Board and School Superintendent (school authorities), asked a district court to postpone their program for desegregation mandated by the Brown v. Board of Education decision because of great difficulties in implementing the program. The district court granted the requested relief but the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed. Certiorari was granted to review this judgment.

The school authorities claimed that while they made good faith efforts to implement the desegregation program, the Governor and Legislature of Arkansas resisted the program and enacted laws and took other actions to make implementation impossible.

  • The Court upheld the appellate decision requiring the desegregation program to proceed. 
  • The prohibitions of the Fourteenth Amendment extended to all action of a state denying equal protection of the laws; whatever the agency of the state taking the action, or whatever the guise in which it was taken. 
  • While one might sympathize with the position of the school authorities, they were in fact agents of the State of Arkansas. 
  • Moreover, the constitutional rights of children not to be discriminated against in school admission on grounds of race or color could neither be nullified openly and directly by state legislators or state executive or judicial officers, nor nullified indirectly by them through evasive schemes for segregation. 
  • Finally, the Court noted that the Constitution was the supreme law of the land. 
  • No state legislator or executive or judicial officer could war against the Constitution without violating his undertaking to support it.
The Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court.

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