What is the importance or significance of the plessy vs ferguson case?
- JohnnysbarLv 48 years agoFavorite Answer
Plessy legitimized the move toward segregation practices begun earlier in the South and provided an impetus for further segregation laws. Legislative achievements won during the Reconstruction Era were erased through means of the "separate but equal" doctrine. The doctrine was further justified by a previous Supreme Court decision in 1875, which limited the federal government's ability to intervene in state affairs, only guaranteeing Congress the power “to restrain states from acts of racial discrimination and segregation." The ruling basically granted states legislative immunity when dealing with questions of race, guaranteeing the state’s right to implement racially separate institutions requiring them only to be “equal”. The prospect of greater state influence in matters of race worried numerous advocates of civil equalities including Supreme Court justice John Harlan who wrote in his dissent of the Plessy decision, “we shall enter upon an era of constitutional law, when the rights of freedom and American citizenship cannot receive from the nation that efficient protection which heretofore was unhesitatingly accorded to slavery and the rights of the master." Harlan’s concerns about the entrenchment on the 14th Amendment would prove well founded as states benefited to institute segregation based law that would become popularized as the Jim Crow system.
The effect was immediate as noted through significant racial differences in educational funding emerging in the late 1890s that would prove enormous by the 20th century. States which had previously successfully integrated elements of their society abruptly adopted oppressive legislation that erased reconstruction era efforts. Jim Crow laws would spread northward in response to a second wave of African American immigration and would eventually extend to segregated educational facilities, separate public institutions such as hotels and restaurants, separate beaches among other public facilities, restrictions on interracial marriage among numerous other facets of daily life. Unfortunately, the separate facilities and institutions accorded to the African American community were consistently inferior to those provided to the White community and contradicted the vague declaration of “separate but equal” institutions issued after the Plessy decision.
Jim Crow legislation related to voting would quietly disenfranchise the Southern African American by requiring of prospective voters proof of land ownership or literacy tests at poll stations. African American community leaders who had achieved brief political success during the Reconstruction era lost any gains made when their voters disappeared. Historian Rogers Smith noted on the subject “lawmakers frequently admitted, indeed boasted, that such measures as complex registration rules, literacy and property tests, poll taxes, white primaries, and grandfather clauses were designed to produce an electorate confined to a white race that declared itself supreme”, notably rejecting the 14th and 15th Amendments to the American Constitution. The “separate but equal” doctrine would characterize American society until the doctrine was ultimately overturned during the 1954 Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.