Sample Law Critical Thinking Paper on The Evolution of Supreme Court Decisions Regarding Racial Discrimination


The phenomenon of racial discrimination has been a hot topic in the United States for a lengthy past. As indicated by Brilliant (2010), aspects including education, employment, housing, and public accommodations have been affected by racial discrimination for over a century. However, over the last decade, the effect of racial prejudice in the Criminal Justice System has gained a higher audience with civic rights indicating the justice system is biased. According to Maguire and Okada, 2017 the number of police shootings, as well as improper incarceration, have offered facts to a topic on a criminal justice system that seems bent to oppress people of color; a factor that can be identified as high through the ranks to the US Supreme court. Nonetheless, the authenticity of this premise may be challenged, as it is clear that the Supreme Court has addressed issues of racial discrimination over the years. 

Supreme Court Racial Prejudicial Actions (1892-1948).

In 1892, one Homer Plessy was brought before Judge John H. Ferguson of when he refused to sit in a Jim Craw Car. According to Plessy, the Louisiana state regulation of having distinct railway cars for blacks and whites infringed his 13th and 14th Amendments. Judge Ferguson indicated that the state law in question “implied on merely a legal distinction” between the races consequent of which the rule does not infringe on the plaintiff’s allegation on the infringement of his 13th Amendment right. Nevertheless, a close analysis of the case indicated that the judge avoided the clause in the 14th Amendment that forbids the state from creating regulations that deprived citizens of their ‘privilege or immunities”. Instead, he cited other state laws indicating ‘reasonable’ exercise of police power. The ruling of the case was disputed a presented to the Supreme Court. In 1896, Justice Henry Brown of Michigan delivered the Supreme Court majority opinion in the in Plessy v. Ferguson case, which sustained the constitutionality of Louisiana’s Jim Crow” equal but separate” law. The Judge in his reading indicated that the purpose of the 14th Amendment was to enforce absolute equality’ however, the rule that separates the two races does not infer that one race is superior to the other. As indicated by Sara (1997) the Supreme Court at the time worked on the premise that separation rules did not at any point burden the colored race with the budge of inferiority; therefore, they did not go against the 14th Amendment as presented by Plessy.

According to Moore (2000), this was the principle case that indicated the existence of racial discrimination as exercised by the Supreme Court a precedence that was held through to the Korematsu v. U.S. (1944). According to Sara (1997) the held incarceration charges laid on Fred Korematsu, a native-born American citizen, by the California State Court as well as the Supreme court was dictated by racial prejudice. The Precedential decree designating much of the west coast a “military area”, and requiring relocation of most Japanese-Americans from California was not racial. Nevertheless, the precedence that set by Justice Hugo black that all persons of Japanese ancestry including the United States considered enemy aliens was racially prejudicial. The same principle can be identified Shelley v. Kraemer (1948) a case which clearly indicated racial segregation inference to African Americans owning property.

Supreme Court after Jim Craw Legislation (1954)

On May 17, 1954, the US Supreme Court the Supreme Court made its first move toward eliminating the Jim Craw legislations on its ruling in the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas case. It should be noted that the precedence set by the Plessy v. Ferguson 163 U.S. 537 was the outstanding legislation for over half a decade before the plaintiff Brown indicated that separation rules represented racial segregation charges against the equal treatment against the colored (Maguire & Okada, 2017). At the time, 17 states endorsed the Jim Crow legislation in the US education system. It is for this reason that Brown presented the case to the Supreme Court since the precedence of “separate but equal” was offered by them. According to Brilliant (2010), the Brown case indicated that separation rules gave the colored citizens an historical inferiority complex. In other words, despite the fact that the education system in the US remained standard most of the White students believed they were having a better education than their colored counterparts. In the other hand, the African America students believed that they were receiving an inferior education than their counterparts. This would suggest that most of the students believed that their future would not be equal though they had gone through the same education system. After this was proven to the Supreme Court it was passed that, all separation regulations would be abolished “with all deliberate speed” (Maguire & Okada, 2017). The same precedence set by Brown v. Board of Education II (1955) was later used in the Bailey v. Patterson in 1962 to reverse the Plessy v. Ferguson 163 U.S. 537 prohibiting racial segregation of interstate as well as intrastate transportation services. The same precedence was also set other racial discrimination cases such as Loving v. Virginia (1967); Jones v. Mayer Co. (1968); Lau v. Nichols (1973); University of California Regents v. Bakke (1978); Batson v. Kentucky (1986); Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) and Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action(2014).


Brilliant, M. (2010). The color of America has changed: How racial diversity shaped civil rights reform in California, 1941-1978. Oxford University Press.

Maguire, M., & Okada, D. (Eds.). (2017). Critical issues in crime and justice: Thought, policy, and practice. SAGE Publications.

Moore, N. M. (2000). Governing race: Policy, process, and the politics of race. Westport, Conn. [u.a.: Praeger.

Sarat, A. (1997). Race, Law, and Culture: Reflections on Brown v. Board of Education. Cary: Oxford University Press.