Racial Justice and Civil Liberties

Topics: Civil Liberties

It’s the official end of reconstruction, and the African American race has seen the promise given for their rights as the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments are placed into the constitution. However; it is quickly seen that these promises of equality will not be kept for long. This started with state laws such as the Louisiana Separate Cart Act and other discriminative laws such as Jim Crow Laws. According to history.com historian, C. Van Woodward stated that white and black southerners mixed relatively easy until the implementation of laws requiring separate carts on railroads for the races.

Now, this led to many disputes between the races and it took those who weren’t afraid to voice their opinion to come out and say something against these laws like the Plessey V. Ferguson and Brown V. Board of Education Cases. It’s analyzed that in both cases the justices who dissent with these discriminative laws built their arguments by using logos and pathos to express the rights given in the 14th amendment, stating how segregation is unconstitutional, and how it is discriminatory to separate whether it’s called equal separation for it infringes on the personal liberties given to citizens in the Constitution.

Looking at the Plessy V. Ferguson case it all starts from a dispute over Plessy sitting in the train cart with white people. In doing this he is told to move to the back with the other African Americans, but he argues with the conductor stating that he is 7/8 white and 1/8 African American, however; due to his skin color the conductor throws him off the train and he is put in jail.

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Plessy then goes to court with the argument that Separate Cart Louisiana law which gives, “Separate, but equal”train cart accommodations for both African Americans and whites, is not constitutional. After bringing this upon three different courts three different times they all come to the verdict that this is a constitutional law with only one dissent which is Justice Harlan. The others argued the decision for its removal should be left up to the states. Fifty years later another case fighting against segregation comes up known as Brown V. Board of Education. In this case, Brown argues that to separate schools, regardless that they are equally accommodated is discriminatory for it adds the sense of feeling lesser. The justices were deeply divided on a decision and put the case on hold. It this time we start to see a change with the justices especially after the death of chief justice Fred Vinson. It wasn’t until Earl Warren was appointed that a change in opinion in the justices was made.

Justice Harlan brings about his argument by stating the rights given to him in the amendments. He uses the 14th and 13th amendment and states, “They declared, in legal effect, this court has further said, that the law in the States shall be the same for the black as for the white; that all persons, whether colored or white, shall stand equal before the laws of the States, and, regarding the colored race, for whose protection the amendment was primarily designed, that no discrimination shall be made against them by law because of their color” (p.556). However, with the laws such as Jim Crow laws and Separate Cart laws, this was just a form of discrimination. Justice Harlan brought this information up to further share his belief that whites and blacks should live equally together not separate. He then brings up the point of how the Louisiana Separate Cart Act though not outright said is specifically meant to separate the black from the whites and not vice versa. Nowhere in the Act does it state that a white person can sit in the black section of the cart. This is also as he points out infringing into the personal liberties of the African Americans.

For in America citizens are given the right of locomotion and in no way can the government tell them they can’t do so without taking away ‘their’ liberties. He then began to argue that if we are to separate the whites, and the blacks why not separate the natives and natural citizens, even brought up why not separate by religion as well. Now he didn’t say these comments in a tone that these things should be done, the point he wanted to get across was that separating the whites and the blacks and calling it a nonracial act or discrimination didn’t make sense for other acts on other races weren’t set out (p.558). His next point in supporting his argument is used using pathos. He talks about his beliefs that white Americans have deemed themselves the superior race, however; and to quote, “Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.”(p.559), which is the truth of our constitution. It respects every man’s civil rights, stating that we are all created equal. He begins to point out how some of these men we are discriminating against fought to preserve the union and defeat the Confederacy, he brought this point to try to bring sympathy to those who did fight for their freedom and yet even after winning it are still being discriminated. He ends his arguments saying he will not participate in the voting for he knows true justice will not be given.

Now fast forward about 50 years later in the future, and we see a similar case known as the Brown V. Board of Education. This is where it is visible that more justices are begging to see similar in the way Justice Harlan did. I say this for when the case came up and voting was starting the justices were deeply divided in their decision, so they put the case on hold. A few years later Chief Justice Fred Vinson died and was later replaced with Earl Warren. Earl Warren was a man who believed segregation was unconstitutional and believed in making the push for equality in blacks and whites. Warren first starts off his argument by pointing out how this is not the only case of “separate but equal” being unconstitutional when it comes to education. He and to quote says, “In more recent cases, all on the graduate school level, inequality was found in that specific benefits enjoyed by white students were denied to Negro students of the same educational qualifications” (p.492), he then brings up all the previous cases, cases such as the Gains v. Canada, Sipuel V. Oklahoma, and many more.

He points out that the education of kids isn’t the only thing that should be looked upon as unequal but that the pay of teachers and their qualifications. This is presented in the logos form for he gives information and facts on the matter. He then begins his next supporting argument by using pathos. He does this by appealing to what makes a good citizen which is what we all want in our country. He starts by saying how with all our expenditures and attendance laws made it is shown that we value our education as we should in a democratic society. Warren even states, “It is the very foundation of good citizenship.”, to appeal to those who believe all Americans should be good citizens that way they get the idea that without the combined schools they won’t all become the citizens we want them to be. Next going along with the argument to pathos he brings up the point of how separating these schools adds to a sense of inferiority in the black society, especially in the children. This in return inhibits their needs to want to learn for they already feel as if they won’t be as good as the whites for that’s how they are treated. This gave that sympathetic side of the argument he was looking for and it worked in the end. Now Warren was smart when coming about voting and knew that decisions made would possibly anger many southerners and they would try to resist so he decided a unanimous vote should be made. Now the votes came around and they were still divided for a time for the other half believed it was a federalism issue and should be left up to the states. Warren continued to write and rewrite the court’s decision to obtain the unanimous opinion. Warren instead, of fighting for only school segregation, targeted it as a whole.

In conclusion, both justice Harlan and Warren use pathos and logos to get their points across on how the amendments protect the rights given to African Americans. As well as how to deny them these rights infringe on their civil liberties as citizens in the united states.

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Racial Justice and Civil Liberties. (2022, Apr 28). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/racial-justice-and-civil-liberties/

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