Racial Issues After the Civil War
The end of Reconstruction in 1877.
Withdrawal of federal troops from the South. The battle for control
of the one-party Democratic South between the upper and lower class
whites is won by the upper class whites in 1896. Blacks are still
enfranchised. Plessy versus Ferguson decision in 1896 upholds
"separate but equal" concept of segregation as constitutional, gives
judicial sanction to segregation. Jim Crow, using terror,
eventually disenfranchises blacks. It is overturned in 1954,
climaxing the conservative era dating back to
Stature of justices.
They should have a reputation for law, steeped in law not politics.
Crises of constitutional interpretation.
Examples are World War One hysteria, internment of Japanese-American
citizens during World War Two carried out although they were known
at the time to not be a security threat. The
Cold War anti-Communist hysteria sanctioned by the Supreme Court is
also a time of great dissent.
1960 Eisenhower appointments.
Decisions in the 1960s support individual rights. Unanimous Supreme
Court decision in 1966 outlaws segregation. However, this is now
eroding into a form of segregation.
After the 1960s
is a more conservative Supreme Court. Narrow politicization rather
than stature, yet sometimes unpredictable. Since 1980 there is a
dramatic shift to the right of the political process. Centrists are
now seen as dangerous liberals. The slave South is romanticized.
Renewal of states’ rights argument. Political partisanship exists
in today’s Supreme Court. In recent contested presidential election
Justice Anton Scalia argues against a recount, overturning a state
decision, thus contradicting the issue of states’ rights in another
case where he upholds the states’ rights argument that a state need
not obey a federal law under certain circumstances. Question of
constitutional principles versus political issues.
Supreme Court Decisions in the Last Generation.
Issues between moderates and extremists.
Sharing of power between the 3 branches, the
checks and balances. In the 20th century the power of the executive
has grown enormously. The legislative branch has often abdicated
its responsibilities. The executive branch has violated civil
rights, the President seeing himself above the law in time of
crisis. Judges have the independence of a lifelong appointment.
Will it be a lofty court following judicial issues, or a partisan