Political science


Barron v. Baltimore

Craig and Baron (plaintiff) owned a wharf in the city of Baltimore. This wharf was very wide and highly productive. It was located at the point on the harbor, which had the deepest waters. The city authority undertook an exercise of replacing the pavements. This meant that some streams had to be diverted to pave way for this exercise. The diversion directed the streams towards the plaintiff’s wharf. During the heavy rains, the streams deposited huge masses of silt along the wharf, making it shallow, and of little use as a quay. The Plaintiff suffered a loss in income, due to this. This practice however continued.

In court, the plaintiff gave evidence of their allegations in terms of the original route of the streams, the efforts made to divert them and the damages incurred by them due to this action. The defendants however said that the plaintiff had not made any claims to be compensated. “They also denied, that the plaintiff had shown any cause of action in the declaration, asserting that the injury complained of was a matter of public nuisance, and not of special or individual grievance in the eye of the law” (Irons, 2005). The Plaintiff however won the case and was entitled to a compensation amounting to $4,500.

Plessy v. Ferguson

This case involved a petition for injunction of prohibition and certiorari. Plessy, the petitioner happened to be a U.S. citizen, residing in Louisiana. He was of mixed culture, 87.5% Caucasian and 12.5% African. He claimed that he has every right to be recognized as a white citizen of America. At one time, he went to board the train and booked a seat that was reserved for the whites. Despite the train being a common carrier, the petitioner was asked by the conductor to vacate the coach and occupy another one, meant for non-whites. When he objected, he was removed forcefully with the help of policemen and thrown to prison. He was charged of “having criminally violated an act of the general assembly of the state” (Anderson, 2004). He was tried and the court pronounced him guilty of the above offence. The petitioner however insisted that this ruling was invalid.

He filled a petition and an order was given to the defendants to explain why “a writ of prohibition could not issue, and be made perpetual, and that the proceedings had in the criminal cause be certified and transmitted to the Supreme Court” (Anderson, 2004). The defendants replied to this by declaring that the law was constitutional and maintained that the plaintiff never mentioned anything concerning the fact that he was just partly colored. On hearing, the court prohibited the relief that the petitioner was claiming. The petitioner however pleaded for a writ of error, which was granted to him by the court.

Brown v. Board of Education.

The plaintiff in this case made assertions that black children are not receiving equal protection by the law in their school, like the white children. Education system in Negro schools was faulted or not existing at all. This contributed to the high illiteracy level among the Negros. Infact, it was totally prohibited in some parts of the country. The Negro children (under the representation of legal personnel), sought the court’s aid in securing admissions in the public schools regardless of their skin color. Racial segregation “denied the plaintiffs equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth amendment” (Anderson, 2005).The plaintiffs argued that “segregated public schools are not “equal” and cannot be made “equal,” and that hence they are deprived of the equal protection of the laws” (Anderson, 2005).

This argument has been inconclusive. The most enthusiastic advocates of the post war changes intended to remove all the legal differences that existed based on the races, and making all the U.S. citizens by birth or naturalization equal. The opponents of this idea however made sure this had the least effect possible. This is why the issue has remained unconcluded. The idea of separate and equal could not be applicable in the field of education. The court therefore came up with a ruling that “Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law; for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to [retard] the educational and mental development of negro children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racial[ly] integrated school system” (Patterson, 2001).














Work cited:

Anderson, Wayne. Plessy V. Ferguson: Legalizing Segregation. Supreme Court cases through

primary sources. New York: Rosen Pub. Group, 2004. Print

Irons, Peter H. Cases and Controversies: Civil Rights and Liberties in Context. Upper Saddle

River, N.J: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2005. Print.

Patterson, James T. Brown V. Board of Education: A Civil Rights Milestone and Its Troubled

Legacy. Pivotal moments in American history. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. Print.

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