Five Landmark Supreme Court Cases that Broadened Civil Rights
- Shelley vs. Kraemer (1948)
- Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka (1954)
- Boynton vs. Virginia (1960)
- Loving vs. Virginia (1967)
- Jones vs. Alfred H. Mayer Co. (1968)
Decisions of the Supreme Court have been extremely important in broadening and protecting the civil rights of black Americans and other people of color. There are five landmark civil rights cases that had a particularly profound impact in the United States.
1. Shelley vs. Kraemer (1948)
Prior to this 1948 Supreme Court case, a practice involving the insertion of “restrictive covenants” in deeds prevented white homeowners from selling their homes to black buyers. In Shelley vs. Kraemer, the Supreme Court declared the inclusion of restrictive covenants preventing black people from living in certain properties was unconstitutional.
2. Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka (1954)
Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka brought an end to the separate but equal doctrine in public schools. The case involved a situation across the United States in which black students were prohibited from attending school designated for white students, even if that meant black students needed to travel a significant distance to get to school. Future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall represented the plaintiffs in this landmark civil rights case.
3. Boynton vs. Virginia (1960)
Boynton vs. Virginia brought an end to the separate but equal doctrine as it was applied to public transportation. Civil rights activist Rosa Parks was one of the people who challenged the mandate requiring black people to “sit at the back of the bus.” This case was also argued before the Supreme Court by Thurgood Marshall.
4. Loving vs. Virginia (1967)
In the United States prior to the Loving vs. Virginia case some states had laws on their books that prohibited interracial marriage. In this case, the Lovings were married in Washington, D.C., and returned to their home state of Virginia. Upon their return, they were arrested, prosecuted, found guilty, and sentenced to jail for marrying one another. The Supreme Court ruled that law preventing interracial marriage was unconstitutional.
5. Jones vs. Alfred H. Mayer Co. (1968)
Jones vs. Alfred H. Mayer Co. is another case involving discrimination in housing. In his 1968 case, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress has the constitutional authority to enact legislation to prevent racial discrimination in the sale or rental of residences in the United States. Prior to this case, racial discrimination in the sale or rental of residential property was a pervasive issue across the United States.
There are a number of other important Supreme Court cases that expanded and protected the civil rights of black Americans and other people of color. Even in this day and age, there are cases reaching appellate courts across the United States that address issues associated with racial discrimination. A notable percentage of these cases are addressing issues associated with racial discrimination associated with voting rights.