The Warren Court and Desegregation

When Chief Justice ·warren assumed his post in October 1953, the underpinnings of the “separate but equal” concept had become unmoored beyond restoration. Full-scale argument on the validity of apartheid in public education was only weeks away, and the portent of change in the constitutional doctrine governing American race relations was unmistakable. Although the groundwork had been carefully prepared for the Chief Justice’s announcement in Brown v. Board of Education that fundamental principles forbade racial segregation in the nation’s public schools, the decision, when it was delivered on :May 17, 1954, was more than a break with the past. In interpreting the fourteenth amendment as guaranteeing and securing to Negroes equality in substance rather than in mere form, the Brown decision was a revolutionary statement of race relations law.