Compare and Contrast Essay: Plessy vs. Ferguson and the Brown vs. Board of Education

Published: 2022-05-24
Compare and Contrast Essay: Plessy vs. Ferguson and the Brown vs. Board of Education
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories: Law
Pages: 8
Wordcount: 1968 words
17 min read

The Supreme Court of the United States is responsible for the many laws it passes as well as the precedents it has when making decisions (Katz & Taylor, 2013). Most of the decisions made in the Court affect generations for long period. The aim of the laws passed in the Court is to ensure that interests of the majority and minority groups are protected while reducing the possibility of either of the groups taking advantage of the others (Bell Jr, 1979). Decisions in the court of law are made by judges. When it comes to voting to support or reject a rule, some of the judges' names remain anonymous while in others, their identities are revealed. Revealing or hiding the identity of the names does not affect the quality of the rule. The court has a responsibility of ensuring that all citizens in the country enjoy similar rights and that their interests are prioritized in the decision-making process. The United States Supreme Court is famous for its directives in relation to the segregation issues that have faced the country for a long time. two of the popular court cases include the Plessy vs. Ferguson and the Brown vs. Board of Education cases that involved the racial segregation social issue affecting the blacks and whites in the society (Amar, 2011). The long-standing conflicts between the white and blacks in the country attracted the attention of the judges who needed to come up with creative ways to put an end to the social problem. Both decisions involved a careful examination of the society with an aim of ensuring that both whites and blacks lived in harmony with each other, despite the differences that existed between them.

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Differences between Plessy vs. Ferguson and the Brown vs. Board of Education

The Plessy vs. Ferguson case emphasized the need to segregate all amenities in the society (Yudof et al., 2011). This meant that blacks and whites would experience the same quality of products but on different sides, as they were not allowed to meet or interact with each other. the social amenities included schools, hospitals, roads, offices, roads, amongst others. The idea supported in this case was that equality would still be maintained and observed but the different races would interact less in the public places (Amar, 2011). This 1896 ruling ensured that racial segregation was legal. Hence, any individual found to be on the wrong side would be considered to have broken the law and would be answerable to the court. The blacks were supposed to attend social places that accommodated their race and it was considered illegal for them to go to the white side. This was the same law that the whites were supposed to observe as they would only access services from places headed and operated by white owners.

Another difference between Plessy vs. Ferguson and the Brown vs. Board of Education is that the former advocated for equality and isolation, while the latter advanced the idea that isolation led to inequality. Bell Jr (1979) argues that in a white-dominated environment, the blacks were bound to feel the negative effect when the ideology of separation was upheld by the court. This is because most service providers and leaders were white, and they would make favorable decisions for their race when it came its allocation of resources. This would translate to inequality in the long-term. in addition, it would affect all social capacities leading to ill-treatment of blacks. for instance, most blacks would lose their lives since the healthcare facilities they attended would not be fully equipped and the prohibition to attend those considered to be of the white race would be impossible. Further, employment opportunities would favor the different races depending on the availability. Hochman (2011) argues that in the long-term, one of the two races would feel the negative effect more than the other. this was most likely to be the black race since it was considered inferior to the other. further, the long-standing cases of slavery had created a negative image on the minds of the whites and perceived the blacks as individuals that were required to serve them.

Martin (1998) suggests another outstanding difference between the Plessy vs. Ferguson and the Brown vs. Board of Education cases was the time difference between the two. The Plessy vs. Ferguson took place in the mid-1890s when the issue of segregation was assumed as the best solution to create a conducive environment in which both the whites and blacks would survive and live in harmony with each other. the decision was supported by seven judges against one. Amar (2011) argues that the Plessy vs. Ferguson was one of the worst decisions that the Supreme Court made. On the other hand, the Brown vs. Board of Education was passed in the mid-1950s, almost one year after the Plessy vs. Ferguson case. This case declared the former as unconstitutional and unlawful. Hence, it formed the basis in which the Plessy vs. Ferguson rule was dismissed (Yudof et al., 2011). In a decision supported by nine judges, which was the full bench for the day, stated that separating the learning institutions created the ground for inequality. This is because attention would be given to either side, creating a disadvantage for the other one.

Similarities between Plessy vs. Ferguson and the Brown vs. Board of Education

One of the similarities between Plessy vs. Ferguson and the Brown vs. Board of Education cases is that they were focused on the black race accessibility to quality education in all the learning facilities (Medley, 2012). Both cases were some of the largest landmarks in the country that challenged the laws made previously. For instance, the Brown vs. Board of Education case challenged the Plessy vs. Ferguson ruling made in the 1890s regarding the separation of learning institutions for the blacks and whites, and considered it to be unlawful (Bell Jr, 1979). The inequality created had seen schools belonging to white learners equipped with more facilities compared to those of the black students. Ending the racial segregation idea in schools would help all learners relate to each other despite their skin color differences. In addition, the aim of the rules in both cases was to change the perception of young individuals towards each other while in their formative years and encourage them to perceive each other as equals in the society.

Some of the similarities between the Plessy vs. Ferguson and the Brown vs. Board of Education cases is that they both involved the Supreme Court of the United States (Yudof et al., 2011). Both cases were held at a time that the court maintained its superiority and commanding respect from the society. It was also a period that Civil Rights of all races was not considered equal and it was not a priority to create an environment where both would relate with each other by maintaining mutual respect for the unique characteristics, similarities, and differences that existed between them (Amar, 2011). In addition, both cases involved the intervention of judges who had long served in the Court and had wide experience in legislation. The Supreme Court of the United States is the largest legal body with the responsibility of settling cases amicably. It considers the interest of all parties involved with an aim of solving the issue for the mutual benefit and peaceful coexistence. The relationship between the two races would create an environment for them to work and exchange ideas that would help the United States go through a growth spurt in terms of development. In addition, all social institutions would accommodate the different needs of both the blacks and whites.

Another similarity between the two court cases is that they both advocated for equality in the society and harmonization of the people despite the different approaches they used (Thompson Dorsey, 2013). The former supported the idea that all people would enjoy the similar rights even though they would not be allowed to mix since the quality and quantity would be the same. Racial segregation would help reduce the conflicts that existed between the two races by maintaining the same quality. Hence, equal development would be experienced by both races as they would access equal resources from the national kitty (Moll, 2010). The latter adopted the idea that equality would be better if all people interacted with each other as opposed to accessing the services separately. For instance, the learning institutions would provide similar learning environments that would allow all students, irrespective of their background to get a quality education (Bell Jr, 1979). Hence, policymakers in the education sector would have no preference for either race since all would be accommodated in one learning institution. Teachers in learning institutions would be prohibited from making defamatory remarks on all learners and would be required to ensure that all students accessed content taught in class without any fear of discrimination. Admission of students in school would be based on merit as opposed to skin color that had limited the blacks from accessing quality education in the past.

A background of the Plessy vs. Ferguson case reveals that a number of blacks pooled their ideas together with the aim of challenging the ruling that favored the whites at their expense (Chapman, 2014). The superiority complex attitude that whites had challenged the environment in which the blacks would thrive. This is because the blacks were misrepresented in the Court. It meant that if a black person introduced a case in the court, it would not get the right attention from the lawmakers, based on the skin color (Yudof et al., 2011). Nevertheless, in case any white person had an issue with the court and wanted to challenge a ruling, they would get the required attention and have lawmakers assigned to the who would listen to their issues. A committee would be formed within the shortest time possible to address the issues. This justifies the period between the two cases, meaning that the blacks had been subjected to an unfair environment and did not get the attention that would help change the rule (Amar, 2011). This would ensure that they would also enjoy living in the United States. The Brown vs. Board of Education case focused and factorized on the Fourteenth Amendment that supported the idea that every individual was supposed to receive protection from the state. It also meant that the state had a responsibility of protecting the interests of every citizen. Racial separation and segregation was a way of manipulating the blacks that would suffer at the hands of the whites (Bell Jr, 1979). This is because the whites would grab the better opportunities and leave the substandard to the blacks. life would be unbearable for the future generations who would have an unfair environment to compete with the whites (Yudof et al., 2011). For instance, if the whites accessed a better and quality education than the blacks, it meant that they would be equipped with skills and abilities that would give them a competitive advantage over the blacks in addition, developments in the black would be slow compared to the white side.

Both the Plessy vs. Ferguson and the Brown vs. Board of Education cases advocated for the protection of the Constitution (Bell Jr, 1979). The was evident from the fact that the Supreme Court of the United States, the highest court in the country was responsible for handling the cases. This is because the laws instilled by the Supreme Court would transform the country both in the short-term and in the long-term. upholding justice meant stamping authority in the country, regardless of who is affected. However, the fact that there was an appeal after the Plessy vs. Ferguson case in the form of the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling was evidence that it was approachable.

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Compare and Contrast Essay: Plessy vs. Ferguson and the Brown vs. Board of Education. (2022, May 24). Retrieved from

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