The revolution of equality and civil liberty in the United States of America(USA) has come a long way and one key driving force of it was the American Judicial System and the varied amendments involved to ensure everyone is treated equally. The Equal Protection Clause forms an integral part of the 14th Amendment in the Constitution as illustrated in the following cases.
The controversial verdicts reached by the United States Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson (1890) and Brown v. Board of Education (1954) trials led to unfavorable precedence within the judicial system of the USA and brought about the ‘separate but equal policy’. Plessy, an American citizen from the state of Louisiana, felt aggrieved for being denied his rights and privileges as conferred by the Constitution. His lawyer’s defense efforts based on the 14th Amendment to defend his liberty rights which were thwarted by the then sitting Judge Ferguson, who inferred that states were the custodians of internal state regulation, hence superseded federal regulations, if not violated.
The Brown v Board of education (1954) was a buildup class action case from several African American court cases, focusing on segregation in public schools involving five cases filed in different courts within the states. One of the key plaintiffs was an eight-year old African American denied admission to an elementary school near her home because it was a white preserve school, prompting her parents seek legal redress as outlined in the Equal protecting clause of the 14th Amendment of the USA Constitution.The Board of Education of Topeka’s attorney based their defense on the Plessy v Ferguson (1896) case above arguing that they were operating within the parameters set by the case. The cases lead to overturning of the ‘separate but equal policy’ on racial segregation, which focused on physical segregation at the detriment of the emotional impact on segragation. Lack of alignment between the Federal laws and state laws was also highlighted. Both cases brought about a dramatic paradigm shiftwards towards minority rights and, as mentioned above, emotive issues came into the forefront for civil liberties.