Amicus Briefs - News from the Alexander Campbell King Law Library  
March 2004
 
In This Issue Painting by Elliott Stiles This photo barely captures the vibrant colors of an original work of art donated to the library by  law student Elliott Stiles. The various elements of the painting represent the first semester of law school. The work hangs next to the Circulation Desk along with Mr. Stiles'  explanation of the symbols and motifs.
 
Brown v. Board of Education Celebrates 50th  Anniversary
Sharon Bradley

    Brown v. Board of Education was actually two U.S. Supreme Court decisions. Brown I, 347 U.S. 483, argued Dec. 9, 1952, reargued Dec. 8, 1953, decided May 17, 1954 by a vote of 9 to 0, opinion written by Warren;  and Brown II, 349 U.S. 294, in which the question of relief was reargued April 11-14, 1954, decided May 31, 1955 by a vote of 9 to 0, opinion written by Warren.
    The decisions culminated a litigation campaign by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and its legal unit, the Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., begun twenty years earlier. Beginning in the 1930s, the NAACP brought suit at the state and then the federal level challenging the "Jim Crow  laws“state-imposed racial segregation in public accommodations and in education. The primary obstacle to dismantling the Jim Crow system was the Court's decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896), in which the Court determined that state-imposed racial segregation in public facilities was not "unreasonable" and so did not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
    The deterioration of Plessy as authority for state-imposed segregation began in 1938 when the Supreme Court in Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, 305 U.S. 337,  invalidated Missouri's out-of-state tuition program for African-American law students.
    A significant event took place in 1948, when the U.S. Attorney General signed an amicus curiae brief in a race case, Shelley v. Kramer, 334 U.S. 1 (restrictive covenants were unconstitutional). This signaled the federal government's symbolic support for the NAACP's long term strategy. Two years later the Court invalidated segregation in graduate school (McLaurin v.Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, 339 U.S. 637) and in law schools (Sweatt v. Painter, 339 U.S. 629). Both opinions noted the inequality of facilities created by Jim Crow, but for the first time disapproved of the intangible but real harms of racial segregation.
    The most difficult obstacle to ending segregation in public education was the scope of relief. When Brown was first argued in 1952 the Court was divided on how and at what pace to order relief. It was the untimely death of Chief Justice Fred Vinson that allowed the Court to move forward. The new chief justice, Earl Warren, was able to convince his colleagues to decide the merits in one opinion and to defer the question of relief to a second opinion following reargument. His most significant accomplishment may have been presenting a unanimous vote and opinion. He had to convince at least two justices not to file opinions they had already begun drafting, Robert H. Jackson, a concurrence and Stanley F. Reed, a dissent. The Court's unanimity  has been praised as one of the strengths of the opinions. Brown I was additionally praised for the manner in which Warren wrote the opinion. It was short (10 pages), non-accusatory, and non-technical. Warren wanted the opinion understood by layman and even reprinted in the public press.
    Many hoped that Brown II would lay out a plan for the desegregation of the nation's public schools. The NAACP had urged desegregation to proceed immediately or at least with specific deadlines. The Court feared a violent reaction if they ordered desegregation at a pace the states could not or would not accept. The Court used the phrase "with all deliberate speed" in ordering the states to begin desegregation. The financial burden of producing desegregation plans was placed on the plaintiffs and the NAACP, none of whom could afford such costs. Some hoped, maybe even assumed, the Department of Justice, which had participated in all of the Brown arguments, would support the plaintiffs. President Eisenhower avoided the issue and promised only "to obey the law of the land." Brown II was criticized for its lack of clarity and its weakening of the moral position of Brown I.
    Because of the lack of direction in Brown II the Court had to reexplain and even reestablish the principle in every subsequent segregation case. Cooper v. Aaron, 358 U.S. 1 (1958), was the first significant legal test of the enforcement of Brown. In another unanimous decision actually signed by all of the justices, the Court held that postponing plans for desegregation in good faith and even in the interest of preserving public peace would violate black students' rights under the Equal Protection Clause. The Court clearly reminded the states' governors and legislators they were bound by the Supremacy Clause to uphold decisions of the Supreme Court. In Green v. County School Board of New Kent County, 391 U.S. 430 (1968), the Court held that compliance with Brown II required not simply abolition of state-imposed segregative practices but the effective desegregation of formerly segregated schools. Busing for racial balance was a natural outcome of Green, which the Court confirmed in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Board of Education, 402 U.S. 1 (1971).
    On some levels Brown was ineffective. A decade after the first decision, less than 2 percent of formerly segregated school districts had experienced any desegregation. Yet the goals of Brown prompted passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

    Go to our web page to learn more about Brown and its impact on American education. There are links to digital displays with timelines and extensive photo archives. The display case outside the entrance to the library contains some of the significant documents related to Brown and additional reading material.

 

Use CALI Lessons for Stress Relief
Carol Watson


As exam anxiety begins permeating the atmosphere in the Law Library, I’d like to suggest a resource that might alleviate some of your fears – CALI lessons. 

What is CALI?
The Center for Computer Assisted Legal Instruction is a non-profit law school consortium that promotes the use of technology in legal education.  CALI publishes more than 300 interactive computer lessons in 27 legal subject areas.   CALI lessons are available for all first year subject areas as well as most subject areas from upper-level courses. 

Who writes the CALI tutorials?
The lessons are written by law faculty and librarians and are regularly reviewed and revised.

What is the format of the CALI tutorials?
The format of the individual lessons varies according to the educational objectives of the author. Some authors use the setting of a simulated trial to provide students with an opportunity to test their understanding of an area of law. Other lessons drill students through a series of questions requiring them to identify relevant issues and apply recently learned concepts.

How can law students access CALI tutorials?

You can download lessons from the CALI website:  http://www.cali.org.   However, to get started, you must first register with a membership authorization code.  Stop by the Reference Desk to get the code.

Good luck on exams!