Breaking the Back of Segregation: Why Sweatt Matters

36 Thurgood Marshall Law Review 7-37 (2010) (published in 2012)

32 Pages Posted: 28 May 2012  

Paul Finkelman

University of Pittsburgh, School of Law; Albany Law School - Government Law Center

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

In this article the author argues that Sweatt v. Painter (1950) deserves greater prominence in legal history and the history of integration. Sweatt is the first case in which the Supreme Court articulated that under some circumstances "separate but equal" could never pass constitutional muster because the institution created for blacks could never be equal to the institution for whites. Here the Court held that no matter what the State of Texas create for blacks, it could never create an law school that was "equal" to the law school at the University of Texas at Austin. Significantly, the unanimous Court that decided this case include a graduate of the University of Texas Law School, Justice Tom Clark. Thus, this article argues that Sweatt set the stage for Brown v. Board of Education by sending a clear message to the South that in important ways segregation could never create equal institutions.

Suggested Citation

Finkelman, Paul, Breaking the Back of Segregation: Why Sweatt Matters (2010). 36 Thurgood Marshall Law Review 7-37 (2010) (published in 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2066081

Paul Finkelman (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh, School of Law ( email )

3900 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States
412-648-2079 (Phone)

Albany Law School - Government Law Center ( email )

80 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY 12208
United States

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