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School Segregation in the USA

By Mark Rathbone | Published in History Review 2010 
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Mark Rathbone puts the famous 1954 school segregation case, Brown v. Board of Education, into historical context.

Any student of civil rights in the USA knows about Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 Supreme Court case which outlawed racial segregation in schools. The United States Constitution put the Supreme Court at the head of the judicial branch of government: ‘The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.’ Its purpose is to determine whether particular laws passed by Congress or by State legislatures, or decisions made by the executive branch, are in accordance with the Constitution or not. Ever since the case Marbury v. Madison in 1803, the Court has had the power to ‘strike down’ laws which it decides are unconstitutional.

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