Plessy v. Ferguson and its significance.?

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  • Anonymous
    8 years ago
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    The case was decided on May 18, 1896, by the Supreme Court of the United States, and it established, as a matter of federal constitutional law, as principle of federal constitutional law in the United States, that a state was free to require separate accommodations for different races so long as the provisions made were substantially equal for each race.

    The specific context in which the case arose: Homer Plessy was a black man who boarded a train in Louisiana. He attempted to enter a car that was, by state law, set aside for members of the white race. He was arrested and charged with violating the law. He was convicted, and his conviction was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Louisiana. The United States Supreme Court ruled against him, stating that requiring separation of the races was not unlawful, so long as equal provisions were made for both. There was no showing that the provisions were unequal.

    The United States Supreme Court continued with the doctrine of "separate but equal," applying in the cases of Cumming v. Board of Education, Berea College v. Kentucky, Gong Lum v. Rice, and Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, and a few others. This suited a lot of white people, and not just Southerners, just fine, because while they were willing to concede political equality to blacks, they did not necessarily care to associate with them in public places. Substantial investments were made in separate facilities, particularly after the Supreme Court and other federal courts began to get serious about the "equal" part of "separate but equal."

    Then, all of a sudden, without any warning, and without any change in the United States Constitution, the Supreme Court changed its mind, and held, in an elementary school case, that segregation of the races was unconstitutional. Hey, we are autocratic, dictatorial judges, and we get to change our minds.

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