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The Supreme Court And Civil Rights

1147 words - 5 pages

Declared in the U.S. Constitution every American or should it be person, is guaranteed civil rights. Civil rights did not just consist of “freedom of speech and assembly,” but as well as “the right to vote, the right to equal protection under the law, and procedural guarantees in criminal and civil rights,” (Dawood). It was not until 1791, that the Bill of Rights was appended to the constitution, which helped clarify these rights to citizens. “Rights were eventually applied against actions of the state governments in a series of cases decide by the Supreme Court,” Dawood stated. In previous years (1790-1803), the Supreme Court had little say in decisions being made by government. As time went on the Supreme Court took on more responsibility and started making additional decisions, which in time helped minorities gain their civil rights. It took a couple of years, as a matter of fact till the 1900’s for the Supreme Court to get out of the “ideology of white supremacy and the practice of racism,” (Smith). Though the decisions of the Supreme Court were not all that appreciated in the beginning, following the 20th century the court really facilitated in the advancements of civil rights.
The Supreme Court was known for some of the most notorious decisions made in history, many in which included the cases, Marbury v. Madison, Scott v. Sandford, and United States v. Cruikshank. Despite these cases, the court did turn around and change their perspective and helped minorities achieve their civil rights. In 1915, the case of Guinn and Beal v. United States helped African Americans reassure their right to vote. In this case the Supreme Court considered the grandfather clause to be unconstitutional. The grandfather clause was a mechanism that southerners tried to use against the African Americans to keep them from voting. Under this clause they had to reach certain requirements including taking literacy tests and paying a poll tax in order to vote. The only way any men were to be exempted from this clause was if his father or grandfather were to have voted previous to 1867. Being that African Americans’ ancestors were slaves, they were not able to be exempted thus they had to pass the tests, pay the tax, and pass any other requirements thrown at them. It was not until June 21, 1915 that the court declared it unlawful, leaving way for African Americans to vote.
Another win for African Americans was in 1954, with the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, where the Supreme Court called segregation unconstitutional and consequently banned it. This was only the ending of a 16 year struggle for the ruling out of segregation. The abolishment of segregation in public schools did not rely exclusively on this case, but as well as on other cases which contributed to this ban. The case of Brown v. Board of Education was said to have been divided into two cases known as Brown I and Brown II. The Brown I case, was the 1954 abolishment of segregation,...

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