In the same week that the Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education marked its 62nd anniversary declaring that “separate but equal” schools are unconstitutional, a Mississippi town was found to be in violation of Brown and Donald Trump lists his possible eleven Supreme Court picks for vetting. It’s almost surreal and one could not script the three together. But the three are intertwined together in ways that could affect minorities and attendance at schools.
Brown v. Board of Education’s decision on May 17, 1954 marked the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision which found that barring blacks from attending white segregated schools on the theory that all schools were separate but equal was unconstitutional. The premise of “separate but equal” had held true as the law in the U.S. since 1868. And following Brown v. Board of Education, many African American and other minority children were bused to schools in white areas or otherwise allowed to attend previously all white schools, as a result of the decision. The decision affected schools everywhere—in northern and southern states.
Fast forward to May 17 , 2016, some sixty-two years later. A federal court ruled on a case involving Cleveland, Mississippi that has been fighting against the principles in Brown v. Board of Education for decades. Some say justice delayed is justice denied. And in the recent case of Cleveland, Mississippi, the saying is true.
For over 50 years, the small town of Cleveland, Mississippi battled with desegregating its schools. And now, a federal court has ruled the town must combine its mostly all black and other minorities attending middle school and high school with whites into one school. And the town is weighing its options to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. And so, for now, the issues decided in Brown v. Board of Education are still in dispute—in the minds of those living in Cleveland, Mississippi.
Generations of black children in the small town have been denied a right to an equal education as declared by Brown. And if the town has its way, there may be years before the issue is finally resolved, if appealed to the highest court.
And here’s where Donald Trump’s list of possible Supreme Court justices announced in the same week, if he is elected, enters the picture. If Donald Trump becomes President Trump, the education case involving Cleveland, Mississippi would go before the Supreme Court with a Trump Supreme Court pick. And while however far-fetched it may seem at the present moment in time, a reversal of Brown v. Board of Education’s ruling could occur. A few months ago, it seem far fetched that Donald Trump would become the Republican nominee. But even without a Trump pick to the Supreme Court, the high court has slowly taken away affirmative action rights for minorities in education cases occurring over the years.
And while the Democrats continue to fight during the primary process, for minorities, it is particularly imperative that Donald Trump never enters the White House—as President of the United States.
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal analyst and member of the U.S. Supreme Court bar. Her Op Ed articles appear in the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and Huffington Post.