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Fri, 09.12.1958

Cooper v. Aaron is Ruled

*On this date in 1958, Cooper v. Aaron, 358 U.S. was decided.  This landmark United States Supreme Court decision denied the Arkansas School Board the right to delay desegregation for 30 months. 

The Warren Court handed down a per curiam decision which held that the Court's decisions bind the states and must enforce them even if the states disagree with them, which asserted judicial supremacy established in Marbury v. Madison.  The decision, in this case, upheld the rulings in Brown v. Board of Education and Brown II, which held that the doctrine of separate but equal is unconstitutional.  In the wake of the Brown ruling, the Little Rock, Arkansas, school district formulated a plan to desegregate its schools.

Meanwhile, other school districts in the state opposed the Supreme Court's rulings and did not attempt to desegregate their schools.  However, on February 20, 1958, five months after the Little Rock Nine, members of the Little Rock school board (along with the Superintendent of Schools) filed suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas to suspend their plan for desegregation.  They alleged that public hostility to desegregation and opposition by Governor Orval Faubus and the state legislature created "chaos, bedlam, and turmoil."  The relief the plaintiffs requested was for Black children to be returned to segregated schools and for the implementation of the desegregation plan to be postponed until January 1961.

The district court granted the school board's request, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed that decision after the NAACP, represented by Thurgood Marshall, appealed. Before the Eighth Circuit's decision, the Supreme Court had denied the defendant's request to decide the case without waiting for the appeals court to deliberate on the case. Once the appeals court handed down its decision in favor of the defendants, the school board appealed to the Supreme Court, which met in a rare special session to hear arguments. 

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Poetry Corner

The sale began-young girls were there, Defenseless in their wretchedness, Whose stifled sobs of deep despair Revealed their anguish and distress. And Mothers stood with streaming eyes, And saw their dearest children... THE SLAVE AUCTION by Frances E. W. Harper.
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