Separate but Equal

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Separate but Equal

The doctrine first enunciated by the U.S. Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537, 16 S. Ct. 1138, 41 L. Ed. 256 (1896), to the effect that establishing different facilities for blacks and whites was valid under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as long as they were equal.

The theory of separate but equal was used to justify segregated public facilities for blacks and whites until in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, 347 U.S. 483, 74 S. Ct. 686, 98 L. Ed. 873 (1954), the Supreme Court recognized that "separate but equal" schools were "inherently unequal." The principle of "separate but equal" was further rejected by the Civil Rights Acts (42 U.S.C.A. § 2000a et seq.) and in subsequent cases, which ruled that racially segregated public facilities, housing, and accommodations violated the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of laws.


Civil Rights; Integration; "Plessy v. Ferguson" (Appendix, Primary Document).

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Board of Education, but has quietly and rapidly returned to the late 19th century standard of separate but equal. The Supreme Court ruled 56 years ago that the logic of the Plessy v..
As the case proceeded, there was a big debate--whether we should try to get rid of the doctrine of Plessy about separate facilities, or should we go after equalization (that is, make them live up to the equal in "separate but equal")--or should we do both?
Ferguson, which held, in a case involving segregated passenger cars on railroads, that "separate but equal" facilities were constitutional.
Lawyer Thurgood Marshall, who represented the Browns and other families, argued that the "separate but equal" rule harms minority students by making them feel inferior and thus interfering with their ability to learn.
One would have thought that following the civil rights movement in the United States and the anti-apartheid in South Africa, people would recognize that the idea separate but equal is nothing more than a devious fabrication employed to mask, perpetuate, and sustain inequitous social hierarchies.
His lawyers argued that Louisiana's laws violated Plessy's 14th Amendment right to "equal protection of the laws." Louisiana's attorney general replied that his state didn't treat blacks as inferiors, but merely required "separate but equal" railroad cars.
The landmark case overturned the "separate but equal" doctrine established by the High Court in 1896, which relegated African Americans to second-class citizenship or worse.