January 12, 2017
Question: How does the study of law and legal
structures help us understand the history of the United States in the twentieth
The regulations and
changes in legislature modified in the twentieth century encouraged positive
change in the nation. By reading the works of Friedman and Boyle, something is
clear: to study law and legal structures well, one must look at the conflicts
and social cases that impacted the country and led to changes in the United
states. As we have learned, there are different groups of people that helped
shape law today. The Supreme Court cases spoke to the social and politic
climate of the time. Judges like Earl Warren for example, made liberal
decisions in what became known as the Warren Court. Inside the legal system, he
was one of the most powerful figures in ending segregation in public school. The
Brown v. Board of Education case from 1954 was a landmark case. The case declared
that segregation of black students through the establishment of different
schools (which would be of lesser quality compared to white schools), was
unconstitutional. In 1896 there had been a similar case, Plessy v. Ferguson.
However, like many other nineteenth century cases, the Court supported
segregation. It was a different time. The Supreme Court did not allow for much
room of interpretation of the constitution and was therefore more conservative.
Thankfully, judge Warren was more liberal. He was able to persuade the other
justices and the Brown case resulted in a unanimous decision to recognize the
inequality of the school facilities and that segregation violated the
Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. Other Warren Court cases helped pave
the way for further integration of other races and help the Civil Rights
Movement have more victories. The Brown case served as precedent for future
It even inspired successful African Americans who most likely
considered themselves part of the talented tenth, become more involved.
Thurgood Marshall is a good example. In 1967 he became the first black justice
in the Supreme Court. Before that, he had also argued cases like Brown V. Board
The Civil Rights
Act of 1964, (white) women were given the right to vote in 1920, and in 1938,
the first minimum-age was passed by Congress.
Specific cases and legislatures help
us understand how the nation progressed in the 20th century and how
we reached the state where we are today. So many conflicts documented through legislation
and Supreme Court cases help us understand history and therefore apply the
knowledge we have gained through conflicts to result current day debacles.