Significance of the Supreme Courts in Civil Rights

  • Created by: Pip Dan
  • Created on: 20-09-17 13:58

Before the Second World War, it appeared that federal government was largely uninterested in civil rights. The laissez-faire policies of the 1920s produced presidents who were ‘notably silent on domestic issues’ (Mark Rathbone). However, post-WWII The chief aim of the NAACP was to use the legal system to secure equal rights for African-Americans. As such the Supreme Court can be seen as very significant in their actions to secure legal equality and protection for black Americans. One of the most important factors in its significance was when President Eisenhower appointed Earl Warren as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1953 helped to bring about a revolution in that institution. Eisenhower latter seriously regretted this but under Warren's leadership, the Supreme Court became a proactive force in bringing about full civil right. There are various examples of the significance of the Supreme Court post WWII to the 1965 Voting Rights Act:

  • In the 'Sweatt versus Painter' case in 1950, the Court had demanded a $3 million upgrading of the African-American Praire View University in Texas, because its facilities were inferior to those of white colleges in the state. Whilst this was significant for the area and set a precedent it had little effect outside of the University and so wasn't very important as its scope was very limited
  • The 1954 Brown v Topeka Board of Education case, won by Thurgood Marshall of the NAACP, is perhaps one of the most famous legal cases of the Civil Rights Movement. The Supreme Court ruled that separate but equal could not be acceptable as it was clear from the


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