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High Court Rules Bus Segregation Unconstitutional

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Author Topic: High Court Rules Bus Segregation Unconstitutional  (Read 49 times)
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« on: November 13, 2009, 07:12:17 am »

High Court Rules Bus Segregation Unconstitutional
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Washington, Nov. 13 – An Alabama law and a city ordinance requiring segregation of races on intrastate buses were declared invalid by the Supreme Court today.

The Court affirmed a ruling by a three-judge Federal court that held the challenged statutes "violate the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States."

The Fourteenth Amendment provides that no state shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law nor deny to any citizen the equal protection of the laws.

In upholding the lower court's judgment, the Supreme Court cited its 1954 decision outlawing racial discrimination in public parks and on public golf courses.

[Officials of several Southern states indicated they would continue to enforce bus segregation laws despite the court's decision. Segregationist leaders were bitter in their denunciations of the court and its ruling.]

'Separate But Equal'

Although only Alabama laws were involved today, the ruling was interpreted as outlawing state or municipal enactments anywhere that require separation of the races on public vehicles. It was thought to have placed a headstone at the grave of Plessy v. Verguson.

This was a case decided in 1896, in which the high court ruled that racial segregation on railroads was not unconstitutional if separate but equal facilities were provided.

The "separate but equal" doctrine later was applied to segregation in other fields, such as education, and generally prevailed until the high court's ruling in school cases.

Since then the doctrine has been discarded in every test that has been brought to the Supreme Court.

Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas have laws that could be affected by today's ruling.

Last term the Supreme Court had under advisement a case from Columbia, S.C. involving a similar issue. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals had invalidated South Carolina's bus segregation law. The ruling was interpreted as applying also to bus segregation in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland, which are in the Fourth Judicial Circuit.

In that case, however, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal on technical grounds, although it did not specifically affirm or reverse the circuit court's ruling.

Today's order left little doubt that a new appeal in the Columbia case, if it again came to the High Court after procedural requirements had been compiled with in the lower courts, would suffer the fate of the Alabama statutes.
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