- Search The Registry
- Teacher’s Forum
- Youth Programs
- About Us
- Creating Support
- My Account
*On this date in 1958, Cooper v. Aaron, 358 U.S. was decided. This was a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, which 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 states are bound by the Court's decisions 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 Brown ruling, the school district of Little Rock, Arkansas formulated a plan to desegregate its schools.
Meanwhile, other school districts in the state opposed the Supreme Court's rulings and did not make any attempts 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 along with 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. Prior to the Eighth Circuit's decision, the Supreme Court had denied the defendants' request to decide the case without waiting for the appeals court to deliberate on the case. Once the appeals court handed down their decision in favor of the defendants, the school board appealed to the Supreme Court, which met in a rare special session to hear arguments.