Role Of The United States Supreme Court In Obtaining Equality For Blacks During Reconstruction

1595 words - 6 pages

The role played by the United States' Supreme Court in obtaining equality for Black Americans was one of immense stature. The Supreme Court is the court that can only consider federal questions, or anything to do with federal law. Since obtaining equality for Blacks was such a trivial process and the legislation that was involved was open to much interpretation, much responsibility rested with the Supreme Court from 1896 to 1996 in determining what rights Blacks should have. With the end of the American Civil War, Blacks were granted their freedom however they were still inferior to whites with legal enactments such as the Black Codes. As time went on, Blacks were continually discriminated against, especially in states south of the Mason Dixon Line (the Southern states that had believed in slavery). As time progressed and more liberal thinkers were added to the Supreme Court, Blacks began receiving status almost equal to whites. The focus of this paper is to show just how big and invaluable of an effect that the Supreme Court had on granting Blacks the rights that were enjoyed by whites, and through test cases surpassed any notion of it attempting to constrain the Black race as an inferior one.White Americans found themselves superior to Blacks for various reasons, and as a result of this of this notion of superiority, they felt it necessary to discriminate against Blacks. This unequal treatment resulted in harsh living conditions for Blacks. Legal enactments such as the Black Codes and concepts such Social Darwinism all contributed to this. As a result, Blacks could be forced to live in designated areas of cities, they were limited in their choices for careers, they could be forced into labor contracts and they were also subject to be considered "vagrants." This meant that Blacks could be fined, jailed or could be given forced labor for being unemployed, for swearing or for gambling. Since the Civil War hadn't brought Blacks equality, Reconstruction was supposed to have. However it failed and Blacks were still considered second-class citizens. The real beginning for the dispatch of civil rights for Blacks began in the 1950's and 1960's with "Supreme Court decisions disposing of the last remnants of the 'separate but equal' fiction, striking down the more overt forms of discrimination, giving some reality to the long-ignored guarantees of equality, and implementing the right of suffrage at every level." The Supreme Court, a council consisting of nine justices appointed by the President, reigns supreme over all other local and State courts and has the final say when interpreting the law. This power gave it the ability to change the lives of Blacks across the country. They were the courts who heard the "test cases", which are representative legal action whose outcome is likely to become a precedent. Essentially, a case tried that involves some interpretation of the law and the outcome is hoped to set the standard for all other cases of that type in...

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