With All Deliberate Speed: Brown II and Desegregation's Children
James Ming Chen
Michigan State University - College of Law
Law and Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice, Vol. 24, No. 1, 2006
Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 06-23
The original opinion in Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), did not direct a remedy for the constitutional injury suffered by students in segregated schools. The following Term, the Supreme Court revisited the remedial issue in a second case styled Brown v. Board of Education, 349 U.S. 294 (1955). Brown II remanded the desegregation cases with instructions to "take such proceedings and enter such orders and decrees consistent with this opinion as are necessary and proper to admit to public schools on a racially nondiscriminatory basis with all deliberate speed the parties to these cases." The infamous "all deliberate speed" formula and the South's massive resistance to desegregation arguably dissipated much of Brown I's promise.
Half a century later, Brown II's contested legacy endures. Many of the social ills that continue to plague the contemporary United States - residential segregation, disparities in achievement and opportunity, the concentration of poverty and other social pathologies in inner cities - can be traced to the imperfect implementation of the Supreme Court's desegregation orders. By the same token, today's political and legal order is committed, as no previous generation of Americans has ever been, to Brown I's vision of education as an essential component of intergenerational justice. The responsibility for effecting justice and transmitting wisdom across generational lines falls squarely upon the adults who have lived and contested the tumultuous life of the Republic under Brown. Legal scholars bear a special moral obligation to undo the "enduring disability" that has been inflicted on generations of children by the failure to fulfill Brown I's promise that full educational opportunity would "be made available to all on equal terms."
Number of Pages in PDF File: 9
Keywords: Brown, Brown II, remedies, desegregation, public schools, separate but equal, civil rights, equal protection, children, intergenerational justice
Date posted: May 18, 2006