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Lecture 7

POLB30H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: White Supremacy, Equal Protection Clause

Political Science
Course Code
Margaret Kohn

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Lecture 7: Racial Segregation [Brown V. Board of Education]
State action doctrine
Definition: State action Doctrine is a legal principle that the Bill of Rights applies only to the
government and not to private entities. The bill of rights is the first ten amendments to the US
Constitution, ratified in 1791.Under this doctrine, private parties outside of the government do
not have to comply with procedural or substantive processes under the 14th Amendment.
Brown v. Board of Education: Due to laws that allowed segregation by race, public schools were
segregated. In the case Brown v. board of education, black children were denied admission to
attend a white school. They were denied because by law, segregation was considered
constitutional by the Plessy V. Ferguson case. Private discrimination isn’t actionable under the
14th Amendment. However, the black children sued because they wanted admission to public
schools on a non segregated basis. Under the state action doctrine, though private institutions do
not have to comply with the 14th Amendment, public schools are apart of the governmental
system and the doctrine states the government must comply with the 14th amendment. The 14th
Amendment was adopted in 1868, and addresses citizenship rights and equal protect of the laws.
This segregation was alleged to deprive the plaintiffs of the equal protection of the laws under
the Fourteenth Amendment.
Facial neutrality: A law that does not appear to be discriminatory on its face, but is
discriminatory in its application or effects
Disparate impact: practices that are fair in form, but discriminatory in operation
Separate but equal
Definition: Though a group is racially segregated, it is falsely promised that they will ensure
equal opportunities for all races. it may look one way but underneath there is a hint of a different
motivation for that action.
Brown v. Board of Education: In Plessy v. Ferguson case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that
racially separate facilities, if equal, did not violate the Constitution. Segregation, the Court said,
was not discrimination. The case ruled that segregation was constitutional. "Separate but equal"
remained standard doctrine in U.S. law until its rejection in the 1954 Supreme Court
decision Brown v. Board of Education. In response to the Plaintiffs claim of deprived the equal
protection of the laws under the 14th Amendment, the separate but equal doctrine was used. On
May 17, 1954, the Warren Court's unanimous decision stated that "separate educational facilities
are inherently unequal." As a result racial segregation was ruled a violation of the Equal
Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Jim Crow:
state and local laws that created a racial caste system and mandated segregation
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