Civil Rights

Mind Map by toritillotson, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by toritillotson almost 4 years ago


Courses deemed important in regards to civil rights.

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Civil Rights
1 California Regents v. Bakke
1.1 Background: Allan Bakke, a thirty-five-year-old white man, had twice applied for admission to the University of California Medical School at Davis. He was rejected both times. The school reserved sixteen places in each entering class of one hundred for "qualified" minorities, as part of the university's affirmative action program, in an effort to redress longstanding, unfair minority exclusions from the medical profession. Bakke's qualifications (college GPA and test scores) exceeded those of any of the minority students admitted in the two years Bakke's applications were rejected. Bakke contended, first in the California courts, then in the Supreme Court, that he was excluded from admission solely on the basis of race.
1.2 Question: Did the University of California violate the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, by practicing an affirmative action policy that resulted in the repeated rejection of Bakke's application for admission to its medical school?
1.3 Conclusion: No and yes. There was no single majority opinion. Four of the justices contended that any racial quota system supported by government violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr., agreed, casting the deciding vote ordering the medical school to admit Bakke. However, in his opinion, Powell argued that the rigid use of racial quotas as employed at the school violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The remaining four justices held that the use of race as a criterion in admissions decisions in higher education was constitutionally permissible. Powell joined that opinion as well, contending that the use of race was permissible as one of several admission criteria. So, the Court managed to minimize white opposition to the goal of equality (by finding for Bakke) while extending gains for racial minorities through affirmative action.
2 Adarand Contractors v. Pena
2.1 Background: Adarand, a contractor specializing in highway guardrail work, submitted the lowest bid as a subcontractor for part of a project funded by the United States Department of Transportation. Under the terms of the federal contract, the prime contractor would receive additional compensation if it hired small businesses controlled by "socially and economically disadvantaged individuals." [The clause declared that "the contractor shall presume that socially and economically disadvantaged individuals include Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, and other minorities...." Federal law requires such a subcontracting clause in most federal agency contracts]. Another subcontractor, Gonzales Construction Company, was awarded the work. It was certified as a minority business; Adarand was not. The prime contractor would have accepted Adarand's bid had it not been for the additional payment for hiring Gonzales.
2.2 Question: Is the presumption of disadvantage based on race alone, and consequent allocation of favored treatment, a discriminatory practice that violates the equal protection principle embodied in the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment?
2.3 Conclusion: Yes. Overruling Metro Broadcasting (497 US 547), the Court held that all racial classifications, whether imposed by federal, state, or local authorities, must pass strict scrutiny review. In other words, they "must serve a compelling government interest, and must be narrowly tailored to further that interest." The Court added that compensation programs which are truly based on disadvantage, rather than race, would be evaluated under lower equal protection standards. However, since race is not a sufficient condition for a presumption of disadvantage and the award of favored treatment, all race-based classifications must be judged under the strict scrutiny standard. Moreover, even proof of past injury does not in itself establish the suffering of present or future injury. The Court remanded for a determination of whether the Transportation Department's program satisfied strict scrutiny.
3 Baker v. Carr
3.1 Background: Charles W. Baker and other Tennessee citizens alleged that a 1901 law designed to apportion the seats for the state's General Assembly was virtually ignored. Baker's suit detailed how Tennessee's reapportionment efforts ignored significant economic growth and population shifts within the state.
3.2 Question: Did the Supreme Court have jurisdiction over questions of legislative apportionment?
3.3 Conclusion: In an opinion which explored the nature of "political questions" and the appropriateness of Court action in them, the Court held that there were no such questions to be answered in this case and that legislative apportionment was a justiciable issue. In his opinion, Justice Brennan provided past examples in which the Court had intervened to correct constitutional violations in matters pertaining to state administration and the officers through whom state affairs are conducted. Brennan concluded that the Fourteenth Amendment equal protection issues which Baker and others raised in this case merited judicial evaluation.
4 Reynolds v. Simms
4.1 Background: In 1961, M.O. Sims, David J. Vann (Vann v. Baggett), John McConnell (McConnell v. Baggett), and other voters from Jefferson County, Alabama, challenged the apportionment of the state legislature. The Alabama Constitution prescribed that each county was entitled to at least one representative and that there were to be as many senatorial districts as there were senators. Population variance ratios of as great as 41-to-1 existed in the Senate.
4.2 Questions: Did Alabama's apportionment scheme violate the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause by mandating at least one representative per county and creating as many senatorial districts as there were senators, regardless of population variances?
4.3 Decision: In an 8-to-1 decision, the Court upheld the challenge to the Alabama system, holding that Equal Protection Clause demanded "no less than substantially equal state legislative representation for all citizens...." Noting that the right to direct representation was "a bedrock of our political system," the Court held that both houses of bicameral state legislatures had to be apportioned on a population basis. States were required to "honest and good faith" efforts to construct districts as nearly of equal population as practicable.
5 Wesberry v. Sanders
5.1 Background: James P. Wesberry, Jr. filed a suit against the Governor of Georgia, Carl E. Sanders, protesting the state's apportionment scheme. The Fifth Congressional District, of which Wesberry was a member, had a population two to three times larger than some of the other districts in the state. Wesberry claimed this system diluted his right to vote compared to other Georgia residents.
5.2 Question: Did Georgia's congressional districts violate the Fourteenth Amendment or deprive citizens of the full benefit of their right to vote?
5.3 Conclusion: The Court held that Georgia's apportionment scheme grossly discriminated against voters in the Fifth Congressional District. Because a single congressman had to represent two to three times as many people as were represented by congressmen in other districts, the Georgia statute contracted the value of some votes and expanded the value of others. The Court recognized that "no right is more precious" than that of having a voice in elections and held that "[t]o say that a vote is worth more in one district than in another would not only run counter to our fundamental ideas of democratic government, it would cast aside the principle of a House of Representatives elected 'by the People. . .'"
6 Heart of Atlanta Motel v. US
6.1 Background: Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbade racial discrimination by places of public accommodation if their operations affected commerce. The Heart of Atlanta Motel in Atlanta, Georgia, refused to accept Black Americans and was charged with violating Title II.
6.2 Question: Did Congress, in passing Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, exceed its Commerce Clause powers by depriving motels, such as the Heart of Atlanta, of the right to choose their own customers?
6.3 Conclusion: The Court held that the Commerce Clause allowed Congress to regulate local incidents of commerce, and that the Civil Right Act of 1964 passed constitutional muster. The Court noted that the applicability of Title II was "carefully limited to enterprises having a direct and substantial relation to the interstate flow of goods and people. . ." The Court thus concluded that places of public accommodation had no "right" to select guests as they saw fit, free from governmental regulation.
7 Brown v. Board of Education
7.1 Background: This case was the consolidation of four cases arising in separate states relating to the segregation of public schools on the basis of race. In each of the cases, African American minors had been denied admittance to certain public schools based on laws allowing public education to be segregated by race. They argued that such segregation violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The plaintiffs were denied relief based on the precedent set by Plessy v. Ferguson, which established the “separate but equal” doctrine that stated separate facilities for the races was constitutional as long as the facilities were “substantially equal.” In the case arising from Delaware, the Supreme Court of Delaware ruled that the African American students had to be admitted to the white public schools because of their higher quality facilities.
7.2 Question: Does the segregation of public education based solely on race violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?
7.3 Conclusion: Yes. Chief Justice Earl Warren delivered the opinion of the unanimous Court. The Supreme Court held that “separate but equal” facilities are inherently unequal and violate the protections of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court also held that the segregation of public education based on race instilled a sense of inferiority that had a hugely detrimental effect on the education and personal growth of African American children.
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