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What did the Supreme Court decide in 1954?

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Quick Answer

The U.S. Supreme Court decided many cases in 1954, but by far the most significant and renowned decision was handed down in Brown v. Board of Education, which determined that segregation in public education is unconstitutional. The decision specifically overturned the previous "separate but equal" premise established in 1896 by the Plessy v. Ferguson case that sanctioned state-sponsored public school segregation as long as facilities were equal for all races.

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Full Answer

As documented by the full text of the ruling available on FindLaw, the U.S. Constitution officially identifies the case as "Brown v. Board of Education - 347 U.S. 483 (1954)." It was handed down as a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court on May 17, 1954, stating that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." It ruled that racial segregation in schools is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The case was initiated in 1951 as a class action suit filed against the Board of Education of the City of Topeka, Kansas, by 13 parents of their combined 20 school children. As pointed out by the Legal Information Institute of Cornell Law School, the decision launched the end of official racial segregation in all facets of public life. It was a major victory of the Civil Rights Movement.

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