how did felix frankfurter stand on brown v. board of education

how did felix frankfurter stand on brown v. board of education

how did felix frankfurter stand on brown v. board of education

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How did Felix Frankfurter stand on Brown v. Board of Education?

A. He wanted time to convince more justices.
B. He wanted to change the law as soon as possible.
C. He was against ending segregation.
D. He wanted time to convince Earl Warren.

Answer:  A. he wanted time to convince more justices.



Brown v. Board of Education was a Supreme Court case decided on May 17, 1954 concerning the desegregation of American public schools. This landmark ruling effectively reversed the longstanding decision in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which had ruled that the segregation of public facilities was legal as long as the separated accommodations were of equal quality, the origin of the infamous “separate but equal” standard. In that decision, the court had argued that African Americans were not “lawfully entitled to the reputation of being a white man. Thus Brown was the product of a half century long legal endeavor to destroy a facially unjust legal system based on white supremacist assumptions.


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how did felix frankfurter stand on brown v. board of education
how did felix frankfurter stand on brown v. board of education

Brown v. Board of Education was actually a consolidated brief of five similar cases pulled from across the United States. Three of the cases came from areas outside the South: Kansas, Delaware, and the District of Columbia. While these states fell outside of the southern system of Jim Crow segregation, white supremacy was endemic even in places where it was not enforced by law. However, two of the cases—Clarendon County, South Carolina and Prince Edward County, Virginia—did come from the South. And in the South Carolina case, black residents made up 70 percent of the local population; prospects for an effective integration plan were not great since the majority of schools in the county were part of the seriously underfunded black school system.

 while public education was certainly separate for 11.5 million American school children in 1954, it was hardly equal. Public funding for black education was truly abysmal. The overwhelming majority of black students attended schools in the South. In 1940, public spending per black pupil averaged only 45 percent of that spent on white pupils and some states fell far below this average. and In Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina it was 33 percent. In Mississippi, it was barely 15 percent. Though these figures had recently improved due to public pressure campaigns, black pupils still received only 60 percent of that afforded to white pupils in what was a generally underfunded southern public school system.

As legal historian Michael J. Klarman has pointed out, justices in the Brown decision refused to be bound to the original views of those who drafted the Fourteenth Amendment or by the court’s own precedents set in the late nineteenth century. The justices unanimously invalidated racial segregation in American public education. This unanimity, however, did not come without conflict. From the outset of the cases, which were first heard during the 1952 session, the justices balanced a wide array of considerations. The chief justice hearing the case had been Fred M. Vinson of Kentucky, who questioned whether the court had the right to address public school segregation when, in his view, “Congress has not declared there should be no segregation.”

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how did felix frankfurter stand on brown v. board of education
how did felix frankfurter stand on brown v. board of education

Justices Hugo Black and Stanley F. Reed—from Alabama and Kentucky, respectively—seemed equally reluctant to overturn the status quo of Plessy. Even Justice Felix Frankfurter, who ruled against segregation in the District of Columbia in the companion case titled Bolling v. Sharpe (1954), struggled to find ground to overthrow it in the other state cases, recommending that all fives cases be reargued. Robert H. Jackson, a New Yorker, struggled to find constitutional grounds on which to overturn school segregation. Many of the problems these justices had revolved around the practical difficulties of desegregating schools in the South. Hugo Black suspected that a ruling against segregation would produce both violence from southerners and evasion from state and local governments. He was not wrong, as the next twenty years proved.

For other justices, it was obvious on its face that the Supreme Court must invalidate segregation. The answer was “very simple,” asserted William O. Douglas. “No classifications on the basis of race can be made. [The] 14th amendment prohibits racial classifications. So does [the] due process clause of the 5th.” Harold H. Burton, the lone Republican on the court, concurred. “With [the] 14th amendment, states do not have the choice,” he wrote in early deliberations. “Segregation violated equal protection.” Sherman Minton of Indiana acknowledged Chief Justice Vinson’s point that Congress had authorized segregation in the District of Columbia, but he still found the policy illegal.


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