11 Important Supreme Court Cases in Black History

  1. Dred Scott vs. Sandford (1857). Sandford, Dred Scott’s master, claimed that Scott could not be a citizen of the United States because of his race. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that slaves of African descent in the United States could not be citizens under the Constitution.
  2. Plessy vs. Ferguson (1896). Louisiana resident Homer Adolf Plessy, a seven-eights Caucasian man, was arrested for refusing to move from a white-only train car. The court ruled that segregation was legal as long as it was “separate but equal.”
  3. Powell vs. Alabama (1932). The Scottsboro brothers (nine black youths) were accused of raping two white women. After rushed proceedings, the nine boys were sentenced to death. The court overruled the conviction and granted them counsel.
  4. Shelley vs. Kraemer (1948). The Kraemers had a private agreement preventing African Americans from owning property on their subdivision. When the Shelleys moved into the Kraemer's neighborhood, the Kraemers brought them to court. The court ruled that the state could not prevent certain races from owning property.
  5. Brown vs. Board of Education (1954). Black children were unable to attend schools with white children because of the “separate but equal” ruling. The court reversed the ruling because they felt this was unequal in regards to public education.
  6. Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. vs. United States (1964). The Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. went against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by refusing to accommodate black people. The court ruled that they had no right to forbid guests from staying at the hotel.
  7. Loving vs. Virginia (1967). Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving married in the District of Columbia. The couple was charged because inter-racial marriage was illegal in Virginia. This was ruled unconstitutional.
  8. Jones vs. Alfred H. Mayer Co. (1968). The court upheld the Civil Rights Act of 1866 that bans discrimination of private and government housing.
  9. Sawnn vs. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (1971). The court ruled that in addressing illegal segregation in schools, busing (assigning students transportation to school) was legal.
  10. Regents of the University of California vs. Bakke (1978). Allen Bakke was denied admission to the University of California twice, even though his test scores were higher than other accepted students. The court ruled that affirmative action leads to reverse discrimination.
  11. Grutter vs. Bollinger (2003). The court decided to keep affirmative action in schools because it promotes class diversity.


NY Courts

Civil Rights