supreme court case critique

Opinion Critiques: Grammar and Formatting and Content. Each student will be responsible for completing a opinion critiques of 3-5 pages each. Formatting guidelines are as follows: double-spaced lines, one-inch margins (i.e., top, bottom, left, and right), and Times New Roman font. A bibliography must be included and follow American Political Science Association Style for citations. Papers will be graded based on grammar, content, and clarity.

First, you should present the central focus of the case and its outcome. Make sure to outline what the main arguments are on either side (including the Constitutional challenge). Next critique the majority opinion. Trace the Courts logic and why you agree or disagree with key claims. Using a dissenting opinion may be helpful but use your own insights.


Critique of a Civil Rights Case: Brown v. Board of Education

Central Focus of the Case

In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the central focus was the determination of whether the segregation of the public schools in the United States is a form of discrimination that violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.It was a case that tested the judicial precedent set by the Court in Plessy v. Ferguson, which pronounced that school segregation is constitutional as long as the schools for white and colored children contained equal facilities that promoted their learning (Brown v. Board of Education, 1954). Therefore, it is imperative that a critical analysis of the Supreme Court’s decision in the case is performed to determine whether the majority opinion achieved its objective of reversing the separate but equal doctrine that promoted segregation in the South in the early twentieth century.

The review of the facts of the case showed that it was a consolidation of different cases on the same issue of racial segregation of public elementary and high school in the District of Columbia, Kansas, Virginia, South Carolina, and Delaware.Also, the fundamental problem with the practices in these five states is that black students were not allowed to attend public schools with a majority white student population in the communities, which were integrated, due to the law that permitted the segregation of students according to their ethnicity (Brown v. Board of Education, 1954). All the plaintiffs, in this case, had petitioned the lower courts to repeal the separation because of its violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and were denied. According to the judges of the four lower courts, the segregation of public facilities is legal if they provide the equal services to blacks and whites, which is consistent with the “separate but equal doctrine” (Ware, 2017).Hence, the Supreme Court Justices were required to determine the doctrine was constitutional or otherwise.

Arguments from Both Sides

Meanwhile, the analysis of the arguments by the parties to the Court is useful for gaining insights into some of the factors that might have influenced the decision of the courts. The counsels for the plaintiff argued that the separate but equal doctrine was unconstitutional because it violated that Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, including when the accommodations were equal in other ways in the communities. Also, NACCP-funded legal team for the plaintiff cited that the case of disproportionate funding of black and whites schools in the five states that were cited in the lawsuit as evidence of the need to reverse the ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson that supported segregation of public schools (Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896). Aside from the example of overcrowding in black schools and underutilization in white ones in Washington DC, the counsel to the plaintiff argued that black students were expected to travel long distances to attend all African American schools despite living close to white schools that are less populated.

In its defense, counsel to the Board of Education argued that the school system in Kansas provided the same resources for public education according to the Schools in Unorganized Counties Law of 1879. According to Delgado, Wing, and Stefancic (2015), the law permitted the Board of Education to provide the same school buildings, textbooks, materials, and teacher salaries in black and white schools to adhere to the separate but equal doctrine.Therefore, the Supreme Court justices needed to decide whether the doctrine was unconstitutional despite its equal educational opportunities for students from all races in the United States.

Critique of the Majority Opinion

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court justices held that the segregation of public schools for racial groups is unconstitutional since it violated the rights of ethnic minorities under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.The Court stated the use of the separate but equal doctrines to segregate educational institutions have adverse impacts on the intellectual and moral development of black students who might consider themselves as inferior to their white counterparts.Thus, the Court reasoned that the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment permitted it to make segregation illegal despite not having the same authority as Congress.

The review of the Court’s logic for its decision showed that it was based on non-legal sources, which were the outcomes of two psychological tests that were conducted by Kenneth and Maine Clark. Evans, Cardenas, and Dixson (2017) stated that this evidence showed that the racial segregation of children has a high potential of instilling a sense of inferiority in the students, which is irreversible and a representation of the denial of equal opportunity to achieve intellectual and moral development. It is a position that I support because of how the provision of other equal facilities does not compensate for the damages that are done to the psyche of children who want to attend the same school as their friends from other races and who live in the same community.Therefore, the review of one of the logics that was used for the decision of the Court showed that it was consistent with the goal of public education, which is the intellectual and moral development of students.

Furthermore, I agree with the position of the justices to ensure that the Court’s decision was unanimous as a deterrent to challenging its decision by the supporters of segregation.As a judgment that overturned a legal precedent and reversed the authorities of the separate but equal doctrine, a dissenting opinion would have enabled the supporters of segregation to perpetuate the practice and increase adverse effects of the policy on racial minority students (Delgado, Wing, & Stefancic, 2015). Also, the decision to agree with the Court’s decision was based on the power of the majority to use their political connections and dominance in the states to prevent the implementation of desegregation policies in the country. Similarly, the Court’s consideration for the foreign policy implication of its decision, as stated by the Justice Department is another reason for my agreement with the logic behind the unanimity of its judgment. In summary, the Supreme Court needed to end segregation in public education by reversing the separate but equal policy because it was unconstitutional despite the legal precedent that established it, the adverse effects of the policy on the proper development racial minority students, and foreign policy implications of its continued use.


Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483, 74 S. Ct. 686, 98 L. Ed. 873 (1954).

Delgado, R., Wing, A. K., & Stefancic, J. (2015). The racial double helix: Watson, Crick, and Brown v. Board of Education. In Law Unbound! (pp. 105-112). Routledge.

Evans, M. A., Cardenas, N., & Dixson, A. D. (2017). Why race still matters in urban education: Critical race theory and urban education. In Second international handbook of urban education (pp. 787-808). Springer, Cham.

Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537, 16 S. Ct. 1138, 41 L. Ed. 256 (1896).

Ware, L. (2017). Ben Keppel. Brown v. Board and the transformation of American Culture: Education and the South in the age of desegregation.