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The Impact of The Brown V. Board of Education of Topeka and Tinker V. Des Moines School District on Us History

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Napoleon Bonaparte once said,”History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon.” This straightforward quote can be associated to the Supreme Court and their decisions affecting our US History today. Supreme Court decisions become the “law of the land” and, as such have far-reaching consequences for American society. The Court tells us, through their interpretation of the Constitution the meaning of our protections and restrictions. Supreme Court cases have a lot of credence and many Supreme Court cases have had lasting effects on our society today. Two landmark supreme court cases which have an exceptional impact in the present day are Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka and Tinker v. Des Moines School District. These two cases had a great impact on US History and affected our lives forever.

Perhaps no other case decided by the Court in the 20th century has had so profound an effect on the social fabric of America as Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. The integration of labor unions in the 1930s under the eye of the Fair Employment Practices Commission and the desegregation of the armed forces in 1948 marked major steps toward racial integration. However, the legal framework on which segregation rested was itself being dismantled, challenged repeatedly by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).The doctrine of “separate but equal” was being to crack. However, the 1950’s brought a new wave of challenges to official segregation by the NAACP. Linda Brown, an eight-year-old African-American girl had been denied permission to attend an elementary school only five blocks from her home in Topeka, Kansas. Separate elementary schools for whites and nonwhites were maintained by the Board of Education in Topeka. Linda Brown’s parents filed a lawsuit to force the schools to admit her to the nearby but segregated, school for white students. The main question addressed to the Court concerned the equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.” Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other ‘tangible’ factors may be equal, deprive the children of equal educational opportunities?” The Court was asked to determine whether the segregation of schools was unconstitutional. In an unanimous court decision the courts ruled in the favor of Brown (9-0). Chief Justice wrote,” Segregation in public education is a denial of the equal protection of the [constitutional] laws…Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children…A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law therefore has a tendency to [retard] the educational and mental development of negro children and deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racial[ly] integrated school…” The court interpreted the issue of segregation of public schools by referring to the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment which prohibits the states from denying or abridging the fundamental rights of every citizen and required them to grant all persons equal protection and due process. The Brown decision not only reversed the Plessy doctrine of “separate but equal” but reversed centuries of segregationist practices in America. The Brown decision is seen as a transforming event, was the precedent for the political and social revolution, and was the cornerstone of the social justice movement of the 1950s and 1960s. It also brought the spirit of the 14th Amendment into practice. If it wasn’t for the Brown decision racial equality would not be the way it is today and its decision has had a lasting effect on out society forever.

Another landmark Supreme Court case that had a profound effect on our society today was Tinker v. Des Moines School District. In 1965, John Tinker, Mary Beth and a friend were sent home from school for wearing black armbands to protest the Vietnam War. Their fathers sued but both the District Court and Court Of Appeals discarded them so the Tinkers appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court was inquired to decide if public schools can ban political protests. In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the students had the right to wear armbands to school to protest the Vietnam War. Justice Abe Fortas wrote for the majority. He first emphasized that students have First Amendment rights, “It can hardily be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate…school officials banned and sought to punish petitioners for a silent, passive expression of opinion, unaccompanied by any disorder pr disturbance on the part of petitioners…Accordingly, this case does not concern speech or action that intrudes upon the work of the schools or the rights of other students.” The Supreme Court interpreted the meaning of first amendment right and the court emphasized that students in public schools have the same first amendment rights as all other US citizens. The Tinker v. Des Moines School District Supreme Court case had a profound and lasting effect on our society today. Students are now able to express themselves politically without causing a disruption in the classroom.

Both Tinker v. Des Moines and Brown v. The Board of Education had lasting effects on our society forever. These cases both protected the rights of students and both involved the education of youth. These two cases show that students and children as a whole have the right to stand up for what they believe in. If it were not for the Supreme Court and its rulings schools would still be segregated and public schools would still be banning political protests. The Supreme Court decisions have become the “law of the land” and will always have far-reaching consequences for American society

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The Impact of the Brown V. Board of Education of Topeka and Tinker V. Des Moines School District on Us History. (2018, October 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved November 28, 2021, from
“The Impact of the Brown V. Board of Education of Topeka and Tinker V. Des Moines School District on Us History.” GradesFixer, 26 Oct. 2018,
The Impact of the Brown V. Board of Education of Topeka and Tinker V. Des Moines School District on Us History. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 28 Nov. 2021].
The Impact of the Brown V. Board of Education of Topeka and Tinker V. Des Moines School District on Us History [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Oct 26 [cited 2021 Nov 28]. Available from:
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