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2. The Road to Brown v. Board of Education
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the Supreme Court cases that paved the way for Brown v. Board of Education (1954), focusing in particular on: (i) United States v. Carolene Products Co. (1938), in which the court stated that it would apply a stricter standard of a review when a law appears to discriminate against “discrete and insular minorities”; (ii) the prevalence of racist attitudes and activities in the southern United States in the 1930s; (iii) the importance of Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada (1938); (iv) the importance of Sweatt v. Painter (1950); (v) McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents (1950); (vi) the importance of Chief Justice Earl Warren to the decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954); and (vii) the significance of the phrase “all deliberate speed” in Brown v. Board of Education II (1955).
In this course, Dr Emma Long (University of East Anglia) explores how the Supreme Court of the United States works by looking at some of its landmark cases over the past 50-60 years – especially those relating to civil rights (broadly defined). In the first module, we think about the growth of the Supreme Court’s interest in civil rights in the post-war period, including its handling of an unprecedented number of cases related to individual rights. In the second module, we think about the Supreme Court cases that paved the way for Brown v. Board of Education (1954), making the argument that Brown should be seen not as the beginning of a civil rights movement, but as the culmination of a legal campaign that can be traced back to Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada (1938). In the third module, we turn to the reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade (1973) and think about the potential for Supreme Court decisions to turn a politically (relatively) inert issue into something much more controversial and hotly contested. In the fourth module, we think about the decision in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), which – in its majority and minority opinions – produced unusually cogent outlines of the originalist and living constitutionalist approaches to interpretation of the Constitution. Finally, in the fifth module, we turn to the issue of gay rights and the extent to which shifts in public opinion impacts how the Supreme Court interprets the law.
Dr Emma Long is Senior Lecturer in American Studies at the University of East Anglia. Her research interests focus on the history of the US Constitution and the Supreme Court. Although interested in all aspects of this history, her particular focus is on the period since 1945 and on the rights contained in the Bill of Rights. Emma also has an interest in the interaction of religion and politics in American history, particularly issues related to the idea of the “separation of church and state” that emerge from the First Amendment.
Cite this Lecture
Long, E. (2020, March 03). The Supreme Court of the United States – Key Issues and Landmark Cases - The Road to Brown v. Board of Education [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/the-supreme-court-of-the-united-states-key-issues-and-landmark-cases/the-road-to-brown-v-board-of-education
Long, Emma. "The Supreme Court of the United States – Key Issues and Landmark Cases – The Road to Brown v. Board of Education." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 03 Mar 2020, https://www.massolit.io/courses/the-supreme-court-of-the-united-states-key-issues-and-landmark-cases/the-road-to-brown-v-board-of-education