Enforcing Desegregation: A Case Study of Federal District Court Power and Social Change in Macon County Alabama
Law & Society Review, Volume 48, Issue 4, pages 867-891, December 2014
Pacific McGeorge School of Law Research Paper
45 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2014 Last revised: 22 Jun 2017
Date Written: July 17, 2014
This case study of Lee v. Macon County Board of Education demonstrates that a federal district court in Alabama, enforcing Brown v. Board of Education, brought about significant social change despite constraints on the courts. The court’s application of Brown played a decisive role in ending the racial caste system in this Alabama black belt county. The court, by adding the United States Department of Justice as a party, overcame constraints that had precluded the executive branch from pursuing school desegregation. Change came through the courts before Congress legislated against school segregation. Seekers of social change must evaluate the constraints on the courts relative to the constraints on the other branches and levels of government.
Keywords: School desegregation, Department of Justice, federal courts, social change, Civil Rights Act, Congress, enforcement, Hollow Hope, Alabama, equal educational opportunity, racial caste system, constrained and dynamic courts, amicus curiae, Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown v. Board of Education, racial discri
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