Evaluating Cases Isabella Weng

Plessy v. Ferguson

  • Petitioner: Homer Adolph Plessy
  • Respondent: John Ferguson
  • Louisiana introduced a law that separated blacks and whites on railway cars
  • In 1892, Homer A. Plessy, a man who was 7/8 Caucasian, sat in a "whites only" car and was arrested after he refused to move to a car reserved for blacks
  • Question: Is Louisiana's law mandating racial segregation on its trains an unconstitutional infringement on both the privileges and immunities and the equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment?
  • 7:1 decision for Ferguson
  • Majority Opinion: Separate but equal accommodations for whites and blacks imposed by Louisiana do not violate the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. Segregation is not unlawful discrimination

Brown v. Board of education

  • Appellant: Oliver Brown, Mrs. Richard Lawton, Mrs. Sadie Emmanuel, et al
  • Appellee: Oliver Brown, Mrs. Richard Lawton, Mrs. Sadie Emmanuel, et al
  • Consolidation of four cases concerning the issue of segregation of races in public schools. African American minors were had been denied admittance to public schools because of their race. They argued that segregation is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment
  • Question: Does the segregation of public education based solely on race violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?
  • Unanimous decision for Brown et al
  • Majority opinion: Separate but equal educational facilities for racial minorities is inherently unequal violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Segregation of races in public educational facilities instilled a sense of inferiority that had a detrimental effect on African American children.

miranda v. arizona

  • Petitioner: Miranda
  • Respondent: Arizona
  • Consolidation of four cases in which the defendant confessed guilt without being informed of his 5th Amendment rights during an interrogation
  • On March 13, 1963 Ernesto Mirando was arrested and questioned by police officers about a connection between a kidnapping and rape. The police obtained a written confession from Miranda after a few hours of interrogation. The jury found Miranda guilty. The Supreme Court of Arizona, on appeal, affirmed and stated that Miranda's rights were not violated because he didn't specifically request counsel.
  • Question: Do the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination extend to the police interrogation of a suspect?
  • Conclusion: 5:4 decision for Miranda
  • Majority opinion: The Fifth Amendment requires that law enforcement officials advise suspects of their right to remain silent and to obtain an attorney during interrogations while in police custody. The 5th Amendment's protection against self-incrimination is available in all situations and therefore prosecutions may not use statements from interrogations without first informing the defendant of his/her rights.
  • Dissenting opinions: the majority’s opinion created an unnecessarily strict interpretation of the Fifth Amendment that hinders the police's ability to effectively execute their duties. This strict interpretation destroys the credibility of confessions and undermines the criminal process. Also, there was no legal precedent to support the requirement to specifically inform suspects of their rights.


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