Plessy v Ferguson, Brown v Board of Education, and Michelle Obama

By: Saturday May 17, 2014 9:00 am

What a difference 60 years makes. Roughly speaking, that’s two generations, the span between grandparents and grandchildren, between one way of looking at the world and another. 120 years ago, Justice Harlan looked into the future, and he knew that one day, Plessy v Ferguson would look like Dred Scott.

Today, after I listened to Michelle Obama speak in Topeka, it’s plain she knows the future as well. It made me look at my kid and his classmates, and wonder what their world will be like 60 years — two generations — from now. From what I’ve already seen in him and his friends, I’ve got a feeling that the “better future” of which Michelle Obama spoke is not just wishful thinking.

 

Marriage Equality and the Choice Before the Supreme Court

By: Saturday December 8, 2012 9:00 am

SCOTUS has a choice before it in the two marriage equality cases they have agreed to review. Will they follow the logic of Plessy v Ferguson and its doctrine of “separate but equal” or Brown v Board of Education and a clear declaration of “equal”? Will they choose the logic of Dred Scott v. John Sandford and its “blacks have no citizenship rights” or that of Loving v Virginia and its “states have no discrimination rights”?

Judges elsewhere, like Mark Cady in Iowa and Vaughn Walker in California, have chose the path of Brown and Loving. Will John Roberts walk that same path, or will he and his conservative colleagues choose to be remembered like Roger Taney for sending Dred Scott back into slavery?

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