What Was the Southern Manifesto?

The Southern Manifesto, formally known as The Declaration of Constitutional Principles, was a resolution that was written by the U.S. Congress in 1956. The resolution condemned the decision reached by the Supreme Court in the Brown v. Board of Education case of 1954, stating that the decision was an abuse of the Supreme Court’s judicial powers.

The Southern Manifesto encouraged states to resist performing the mandates that were reached in the Brown v. Board of Education decision regarding the racial integration of public schools. In the manifesto, Congress stated that it would reverse the decision because the court’s ruling was contrary to the U.S. Constitution. This was because the original Constitution did not mention education, nor did the 14th Amendment or any of the other amendments that were made to the Constitution at that time. Congress believed that the debates that preceded the submission of the 14th Amendment were proof that the amendment was not intended to affect systems of education on the state level.

In the Southern Manifesto, Congress also stated that the 10th Amendment to the Constitution should limit the power of the Supreme Court in regard to issues of that type. The Supreme Court revisited the decision that was reached in the Brown v. Board of Education case in the case of Cooper v. Aaron in 1958 after Southerners continued to oppose the previous ruling. It was decided that the states were bound by the previous ruling based on the court’s interpretation of the Constitution.