Brown v. Board of Education

(1954)

Audience

Brown v. Board of Education was first and foremost a Supreme Court decision designed to settle the constitutional question of whether or not segregated public schools were prohibited by the Fourteenth Amendment. Warren wrote the opinion to resolve that constitutional controversy and to inform states that they could no longer maintain segregated school systems. It was also written to inform African American parents that they had a legal right to send their children to nonsegregated schools.

Warren clearly also had a broader, national audience in mind while writing the decision. An experienced politician, the chief justice knew that the decision would be controversial and indeed hotly contested. He sought to write the decision in such a way as to present the policy case to the American public at large. His controversial use of psychological evidence to buttress the case against segregated schools was an attempt to appeal to the public by showing that children were...

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Brown v. Board of Education (National Archives and Records Administration)

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