American Government Lesson 8 Assignment


Wayne Clark
C08 American Government
Lesson 8 Writing Assignment
May 17, 2014
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

Inequality in this country began when the first African slaves were brought to the North American Colony of Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619, to aid in the production of such lucrative crops as tobacco. The American Civil War settled in 1865, would only mark the beginning of equality for African-Americans. It wasn’t until 1954 that the United States Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483, (1954), that would render Jim Crow Laws unconstitutional. That decision began an age of Judicial Activism for the Supreme Court in respect to Stare Decisis, the Mootness Doctrine, and Constitutional Interpretation.

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn its previous ruling in, Plessy v. Ferguson, (1896), defied the very judicial principle of Stare Decisis. This ruling undoubtedly marked its place in American history, as precedent shows today, and continues to be known as the courts first act of judicial activism. The philosophical idea of judicial activism over judicial restraint has been criticized by legal scholars who say it’s legislating from the bench. However, the differing legal philosophies are debatable to times end and are left to the interpretations of each judge and justice.


The Supreme Court included no guidance in its first ruling on Brown v. Board of Education on how to actually implement desegregation. Instead, it called for further court discussion, after which it issued a second unanimous ruling in May 1955. Known as Brown II, this decision tasked local federal judges with making sure that schools were integrated. Although this case was a first of its kind, the lengthy court discussion, the second oral argument, and the court’s decision to issue a second opinion have come under fire. The plan to integrate should have been left that to the executive branch for carrying out of the rule of law. President Dwight D. Eisenhower ultimately did this through Executive Order, federalizing the Arkansas National Guard to break up the mass riots and oversee the desegregation. The Legal Defense Fund, a branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) under the direction of Thurgood Marshall, led the charge for Oliver L. Brown, the plaintiff in the case. Marshall along with a team of attorneys developed the strategy to attack the “equal” part of the Jim Crow Laws and established that the amenities provided for the black students were not equal under the 14th amendment’s equal protection clause. The Court in its unanimous decision agreed with the petitioner, overturned Plessy v. Ferguson, and ruled segregation unconstitutional once and for all.

The Supreme Court made many strides in coming to its opinion, the justices used the philosophy of statutory construction in interpreting the 14th amendment, viewed the constitution as a living document with the original values that do in fact change as society changes. This type of philosophy can be seen with the court’s decision to overturn precedent that was interpreted in a time where segregation was socially acceptable. Therefore, Brown v. Board of Education will always be known as the case that changed American history for decades to come.


Special Interest in American Politics

An interest group is an organization whose members share common concerns, and try to influence government policies that impact those concerns trough the philosophy of Pluralism. Elected officials frequently complain about the influence of "special interests" on American politics. Year after year, election cycle after election cycle, politicians on both sides of the isle, republican and democrat, continue to accept campaign contribution from special interest groups. One of the most important groups that I support is the Human Rights Campaign. The HRC as it’s known for short, is a...

References: Wasserman, Gary. The basics of American politics. 14th ed. Boston: Longman, 2011. Print.
PBS. Slavery Timeline. Retrieved May 21, 2014, from
US Courts
American Family Association. About Us. Retrieved May 21, 2014, from
Political Research Associates
Open Secrets. Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved May 21, 2014, from
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