From to (Magill's Literary Annual 1980)
Because it has been twenty-five years since the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren declared Southern segregation in public schools illegal, there is a definite need for a retrospective analysis of the legal history of desegregation and its social and political repercussions. From Brown to Bakke is such an analysis. With a genuine dispassion that does not shun the complex truth, J. Harvie Wilkinson III outlines the legal history of segregation that preceded Oliver Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka as well as the efforts to further desegregation that followed that momentous decision. To anyone who has lived through the confusion of the last twenty-five years of social strife and legal striving, Wilkinson’s book will come as a welcome gift of clarity and insight.
Many times, as Wilkinson makes clear, the future legal history of the Supreme Court can be read in the dissents of its past justices and the arguments of its losing counsel. In his 1883 dissent in the Civil Rights Cases Justice Harlan had said of the fourteenth amendment: “there cannot be, in this republic, any class of human beings in practical subjection to another class, with power in the latter to dole out to the former just such privileges as they may choose to grant. . . .” In the more famous Plessy v. Ferguson, Plessy’s counsel made the point that the doctrine of separate but equal made no sense. In other...
(The entire section is 990 words.)
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