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Law School Case Brief

Cooper v. Aaron - 358 U.S. 1, 78 S. Ct. 1401 (1958)

Rule:

The constitutional rights of children not to be discriminated against in school admission on grounds of race or color declared by the United States Supreme Court in the Brown case can neither be nullified openly and directly by state legislators or state executives or judicial officers, nor nullified indirectly by them through evasive schemes for segregation whether attempted "ingeniously or ingenuously." 

Facts:

The School Board and the Superintendent of Schools of Little Rock, Arkansas, filed a petition in the District Court of Arkansas seeking a postponement of a plan for desegregation of public schools that had been adopted by the Board and approved by the appropriate federal courts. The new law on desegregation resulted in opposition, extreme public hostility and threats of mob violence that black students were unable to attend the school until troops were sent and maintained there by the Federal Government for their protection; but they attended the school for the remainder of that school year. Finding that these events had resulted in tensions, bedlam, chaos and turmoil in the school, which disrupted the educational process, the District Court, in June 1958, granted petitioners' request that operation of their plan of desegregation be suspended for two and one-half years, and that respondents be sent back to segregated schools. The Court of Appeals reversed. 

Issue:

Was it proper to suspend the desegregation plan of the Little Rock public schools?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The United States Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court refused to suspend the integration plan of the school board until state laws and efforts to upset and nullify the Court's holding in Brown v Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483, 98 L. Ed 873, 74 S. Ct. 686, 38 ALR2d 1180 (that the Fourteenth Amendment forbids states to use their governmental powers to bar children on racial grounds from attending public schools) had been further challenged and tested in the courts. It was pointed out that the constitutional right not to be discriminated against in schools maintained by or with the aid of a state cannot be nullified openly and directly by state legislators or state executive or judicial officers nor indirectly by them through evasive schemes for segregation whether attempted ingeniously or ingenuously; and that the ruling of the Brown Case was the supreme law of the land and of binding effect on all state legislators and officials.

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