School Desegregation

What five different cases dealing with segregation in public schools reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 1952?

In 1952 five different cases, all dealing with segregation in public schools, but with different facts and from different places, reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Four of the cases, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (out of Kansas), Briggs v. Elliott (out of South Carolina), Davis v. Prince Edward County School Board (out of Virginia), and Gebhart v. Belton (out of Delaware), were considered together; the fifth case, Bolling v. Sharpe, coming out of the District of Columbia, was considered separately since the district is not a state. The Court had difficulty reaching a decision after hearing the initial argument. Thurgood Marshall, legal counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, presented arguments on behalf of the black students. The Court ruled in favor of the black students in each case, declaring that segregation in public education deprived minority children of equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. In the Bolling case, the Court determined that segregation violated provisions of the Fifth Amendment, since the Fourteenth Amendment is expressly directed to the states.


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