By Raymond Wolters
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Additional resources for Race and Education, 1954-2007
This led psychologist Bruno Bettelheim to conclude that the NAACP would have been wiser if it had steered clear of bogus science and had based its case on legal and ethical 46 principles. The Brown Court nevertheless placed its imprimatur on the social science of the NAACP. The Court even listed Kenneth Clark as primus inter pares— the first among a group of scholars whom the Court cited as “modern authority” in social psychology. The headline in the New York Times called Brown “a sociological decision,” and the Times’s best-known columnist, James Reston, wrote that the “Court’s opinion read more like an expert paper on sociology than a Supreme Court opinion.
For it is plain to any objective student . . that no such thing occurred. ” 7. Kluger, Simple Justice, 827. ” Or perhaps the justices simply meant to say that, in their opinion, the evidence was 9 so diverse that it was hard to determine the historical truth. Ironically, other historians might have fashioned a better historical argument for Brown. According to Robert H. Bork, the Supreme Court should have noted that the purpose of the equal protection clause was to ensure that African Americans were not significantly disadvantaged by state laws; that at the time and for some years thereafter it was assumed that separate schools could be equal; but by 1954 it had become apparent that the separate facilities provided for blacks were not as good as those provided for whites.
29 But just do not put in race or color as a factor. The Supreme Court embraced this rationale in Bolling v. Sharpe, a companion case that was decided with Brown on May 17, 1954. The Bolling case rose from the District of Columbia and was decided separately for legal reasons. The Fourteenth Amendment (which asserted that no state could deprive a person of the equal protection of the laws) did not apply to the federal government. But the Fifth Amendment prohibited the federal government from depriving citizens of liberty without due process.