- Clarendon County Public Schools, South Carolina
- US District Court, Parker, Waring and Timmerman, Judges
- NAACP Strategy: argue both the inequality of facilities and the basic discrimination
resulting from segregation.
- The state caught Marshall off guard by immediately conceding that inequities existed in the
school facilities provided for whites and blacks, and
they announced that the state had taken action to upgrade black schools. Marshall rejected the ‘good faith efforts’ made by the county to provide equal facilities for blacks by arguing that 14th Amendment rights exist in the present, not some indefinite future.
- Expert sociologists and psychologists offered evidence that segregation, among other acts of prejudice, has detrimental effects on the Negro child: confusion concerning basic moral ideology; segregating groups are the same people who teach him or her about democracy, brotherhood and love of fellow man.
- Kenneth Clark, a social psychologist, had used black and white dolls in tests with
black children to substantiate his theory that segregation had a
damaging effect on children.
o (“Which doll is the nice doll?" "Which doll looks like
you?" "Which doll do you want to play with?" etc.)
o Clark concluded “these children in Clarendon County, like other human beings who are subjected to an obviously inferior status in the society in which they live, have been definitely harmed in the development of their personalities…”
o These tests were vulnerable to criticism concerning the size of the sample Clark used and also the fuzzy terminology he used, it could be argued, predetermined the results, but the states attorney did not challenge Clark’s findings.
- The State argued that problems of race are not solvable by force but
only by the slow processes of community experience. “You can’t pass laws on the mores of people, their culture, their cumulative heritage. You can’t have changes suddenly or by degree; one has to grow up to them.”
- Judge Parker’s opinion:
o “Segregation of the races in the public schools, so long as equality of rights is preserved, is a matter of legislative policy for the several states, with which the federal courts cannot interfere.”
o Clark’s testimony was ignored; instead he relied on judicial decisions
"as overwhelming authority which we are not at liberty to disregard on the basis of theories advanced by a few educators and sociologists.”
o The problem of segregation at the common school level is different from the graduate school level
§ Education is compulsory.
§ Schools make a compact with the parent in raising the child.
§ Policy is, therefore, governed by legislative choice not constitutional right.
o The state was directed to promptly furnish equal educational facilities for Negro
children, but the separate but equal standard was maintained.
- Judge Waring’s dissent (committing social hari-kari in the town of
Charleston where he had spent his whole career)
o The whole Jim Crow system “is unreasonable, unscientific and based upon unadulterated prejudice.”
o After blasting hypocritical white supremacist politicians for threatening to disband all public schools if equality were to be granted and after criticizing his colleagues for their justification of school segregation laws by referring to
Plessy, a case about a railroad car, Waring accepted Clark’s testimony and declared that segregation is a social evil which poisons the minds of children, white and black.
o He concluded that the place to stop segregation is in the first grade, not in graduate school.
o “Segregation is per se inequality.” (See
v. Jenkins 1995)