Civil rights

  • May 15, 2014
    Guest Post

    by Rachel M. Kleinman, Assistant Counsel, Education Group, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

    *May 17 is the 60th Anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court opinion, Brown v. Board of Education. This post is part of an ACSblog symposium noting the landmark decision and exploring the ongoing inequalities in our society.

    This week we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education and its promise and vision of equality. While there is indeed much to celebrate, both in the principles of Brown itself and its now six decade legacy, the fight for equal access to quality education in this country is still being waged on many fronts. At the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund (LDF), we are commemorating this landmark decision by looking back at our history and by doubling down on our current efforts to use law and advocacy to fulfill the promises of Brown.

    While Brown marked the beginning of the end of a legally-sanctioned, racially segregated, dual system of education, we have a long way to go to reach a day when all students have equal access to a quality education. Our country’s history of discrimination, along with deeply entrenched residential segregation, has left us with racially-identifiable schools that do not enjoy equality of resources. We still fight to ensure that all children have access to early childhood education, to adequate school facilities, to safe schools with positive climates, to certified teachers and to rigorous and inspiring courses of study. We also fight to keep our black and brown students free from the myriad policies, including overly harsh and damaging discipline practices, which conspire to push them out of schools and into the criminal justice system.

  • May 15, 2014
     
    At The Daily BeastGeoffrey R. Stone, former ACS Board Chair and current Co-Chair of the Board of Advisors for the ACS Chicago Lawyer Chapter as well as Co-Faculty Advisor for the University of Chicago Law School ACS Student Chapter, discusses how we can “trace unequal education funding back to a horrendous, little-remembered 1973 [Supreme Court] decision.”

    Saturday marks the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Lesli A. Maxwell at Education Week explains why “school diversity remains more complex than ever.”

    Amanda Holpuch at The Guardian comments on a report by Human Rights Watch which shows how young children who are “planting, weeding, and harvesting nicotine plants” are being “endangered by nicotine exposure in tobacco fields.”

    At the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Judith E. Schaeffer notes that “when it comes to marriage discrimination, the Commonwealth of Virginia has a great deal to learn from its own history.”

    Writing for CNN, Eric Segall urges the Supreme Court to televise its oral arguments and argues why life tenures for the justices must be removed. 

  • May 14, 2014
    Guest Post

    by Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

    *May 17 is the 60th Anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court opinion, Brown v. Board of Education. This post is part of an ACSblog symposium noting the landmark decision and exploring the ongoing inequalities in our society.

    The issue before the Supreme Court in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1 was whether it was constitutionally permissible for a school district to use race as a basis for assigning public school students to schools for the purposes of achieving a greater degree of racial integration than would otherwise have occurred under, for example, a program assigning children to the school nearest their homes. As Chief Justice Roberts wrote in an opinion joined by three of his colleagues, an important “debate” in the case was over “which side is more faithful to the heritage” of Brown v. Board of Education. That debate is part of what historians have called the struggle for historical memory.

    According to the Chief Justice, “the position of the plaintiffs in Brown was spelled out in their brief and could not have been clearer: ‘[T]he Fourteenth Amendment prevents states from according differential treatment to American children in the basis of their color or race.’” What, he asked, “do the racial classifications at issue here do, if not accord differential treatment on the basis of race?” And, he quoted Robert Carter, who in arguing the case for the NAACP, said, “no State has any authority … to use race as a factor in affording educational opportunities among its citizens.” Chief Justice Warren had written that a school board has to “determin[e] admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis.” What, Roberts again asked, “do the racial classifications do in these cases, if not determine admission to a public school on a racial basis?”

  • May 13, 2014
    Guest Post

    by Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law, Raymond Pryke Professor of First Amendment Law, University of California, Irvine School of Law

    *May 17 is the 60th Anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court opinion, Brown v. Board of Education. This post is part of an ACSblog symposium noting the landmark decision and exploring the ongoing inequalities in our society. 

    The sixtieth anniversary of the decision in Brown v. Board of Education, on May 17, is an occasion for celebrating what it accomplished and reflecting on how it failed. Brown began a social revolution that ultimately ended the apartheid and Jim Crow laws that segregated every aspect of life in the south and in many other places as well. Brown was a crucial part of the foundation for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the most important federal civil rights laws since Reconstruction.

    Yet, it is a mistake to think that Brown brought about an end to the enormous racial inequalities in American society. The most recent census data indicates that 9.7 percent of whites live below the poverty line, compared with 25.6 percent of Latinos and 27.22 percent of African–Americans. Seventeen percent of white children are in families below the poverty line, compared with 32.5 percent of Latino and 35.3 percent of African-American children. This is the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow laws and the racism that has existed throughout American history.

    It also is a reflection of the historic and continued inequality in American public education. The profound irony is that schools, the focus of Brown, are the area where racial segregation most persists. The tragic reality is that American public schools remain separate and unequal and are becoming ever more so.

  • May 8, 2014

    Critics of the Roberts Court assert that its recent trend of opinions have favored increasing restrictions on minorities. In an op-ed for The New York Times, Thomas B. Edsall explains why an examination of the high court’s decisions in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, Shelby County v. Holder and Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, reveals a “Supreme injustice.”
     
    As the Supreme Court prepares to address the recess appointment dispute in National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, Victor Williams at The Huffington Post reminds Justice Scalia of “his former, much broader view of originalism in the context of presidential appointment authority.”
     
    The Supreme Court’s decision in Riley v. California and American Broadcasting Co. v. Aereo, Inc. “may significantly alter the way we capture, store, and consume information (Aereo) and the extent to which we can expect privacy with regard to, or control, that information (Riley).” Writing for the Brennan Center for Justice, Victoria Bassetti addresses whether the justices are “tech literate enough to get these cases right.”
     
    Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee voted to amend the USA Freedom Act which “would require the National Security Agency to get case-by-case approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before collecting the telephone or business records of a U.S. resident.” Kevin Drum at Mother Jones has the story.
     
    Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is facing criticism for her decision to bypass the state Supreme Court’s stay in the execution of Clayton Lockett. Jamelle Bouie at Slate  argues that “Lockett’s execution was a horrifying display—a cruel and unusual death that wouldn’t have happened without Mary Fallin.”