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9-23-09_P200_Notes - PLSI 200.14 Intro American Politics...

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9/23/09 PLSI 200.14 Intro American Politics Civil Rights and the Civil Rights Movement Agenda -Civil Rights Movement as Test Case of American politics -Civil Rights: The Law -Civil Rights: The Politics -Why Not Congress? -Politics of Culture War Civil Rights vs. Civil Liberties -Civil liberties are freedom from governmental interference -Civil rights are freedoms to… guaranteed by government (e.g. right to live in an open society free of discrimination; right to vote) -Civil liberties tend to limit government -Civil rights tend to require government action Liberty and Equality -Our discussion so far: -American Political Culture: Liberty, Equality, Individualism, Role of Law -Fragmented Power and Limited Government -Madisonian Protection of Minority from Tyranny of the Majority -How does the American system of fragmented power and limited government institutions approach issues of equality? The Civil Rights Movement as a test case of American Politics Civil Rights Movement: Historical Context: Pre-1960s -13 th Amendment abolishes slavery (1865) -14 th Amendment establishes citizenship and vote (1868) -Blacks do not have the vote in the South -Conservative Southern Democrats control key Senate committees-every civil rights bill for decades blocked by pro-segregation Democratic Senators -Cold War dominated post WWII foreign policy; geopolitical strategy and “hearts and minds” - De jure (legal) segregation in the South - De facto (practice residential segregation in the North Pre-Civil Rights Movement: Supreme Court Law -Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) -Louisiana law providing railway cars separated by race -“Separate but equal” facilities are constitutional because if “one race be inferior to the other socially, the Constitution … cannot put them on the same plane” -Applied to schools in Cumming v. Richmond Country Board of Education -Georgia town close black school, not white school -Blacks could always go to private school
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“Separate but Equal” -NAACP legal strategy to challenge this narrow interpretation of the 14 th amendment -Challenge laws that create separate and obviously unequal schools -Challenge laws that create separate, but not as obviously unequal schools -Persuade Court that racially separate schools are inherently unconstitutional Civil Rights: Supreme Court Decisions -Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka KA (1954) -“Separate educational facilities inherently unequal” under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14 th amendment -Bolling v. Sharpe (1954) -Educational segregation in Washington DC. -Extends equal protection standards established in Brown decision to federal government NAACP Litigation Strategy - Why did the NAACP pursue a litigation strategy in the Supreme Court? -Why the Courts: -Courts uniquely situated to protect minority rights (Madison, tyranny of the majority) -State Judges often elected -“Good Facts” to litigate -“Separate, but Equal” – easy to prove unequal treatment - Why not Congress?
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