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The Most Popular U.S. Supreme Court Case on

By Steven Tanner on March 08, 2012 6:02 AM

We know how much you love the U.S. Supreme Court. The Justices have enormous personalities. The decisions can seem larger than life.  

Stories about the tidal wave of campaign cash unleashed by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC were everywhere last year. Same goes for references to Griswold v. Connecticut, which protects access to birth control. Ask Rush Limbaugh if there could be a more hot-button issue right about now.

But neither case was our most viewed U.S. Supreme Court case of 2011. That distinction goes to this unanimous 1954 decision banning racial segregation in public schools:

Brown v. Board of Education remains one of the most important landmark decisions in the history of the United States. It overturned an 1896 case (Plessy v. Ferguson) that upheld racial segregation on Louisiana's passenger trains. In Plessy, justices famously established the "separate but equal" doctrine that effectively legitimized racial inequality.

For a taste of the SCOTUS opinion, as delivered by Chief Justice Warren, check out the opening sentence:

Segregation of white and Negro children in the public schools of a State solely on the basis of race, pursuant to state laws permitting or requiring such segregation, denies to Negro children the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment - even though the physical facilities and other "tangible" factors of white and Negro schools may be equal.

Brown signaled a sea change in how U.S. law addressed racial discrimination in public institutions. But it would take another decade before President Lyndon Johnson would sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law.

Want to learn more about Brown and its legacy? We have articles on the history of Brown v. Board of Education; Brown's place among other landmark Supreme Court decisions; an in-depth review of Michael Klarman's 2004 book From Jim Crow to Civil Rights; and a comprehensive list of federal civil rights laws. We even have our very own Supreme Court Blog for you to follow.

So when you think of the Supreme Court, think of We've got all the SCOTUS angles covered.

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