Doll Studies

In 1954, the Supreme Court held in Brown v. Board of Education that the state-sponsored segregation of children in public schools was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, and thus unconstitutional. The Court reasoned that segregation "generates a feeling of inferiority . . . that may affect their [black children's] hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone." The decision, based more on fashionable social science than law, overturned a 58-year-old precedent and shocked much of the nation.

Brown was the first salvo of an all-out assault on what remained of our dual system of government. The power of the judiciary expanded exponentially—courts replaced local elected school boards and began to make decisions regarding the hiring of faculty, busing, school locations, resource allocation, and the placement of public housing. According to the conventional wisdom, this was necessary because mixed-race schools would be socially and educationally beneficial to all concerned. Integration would raise black self-esteem, eliminate prejudice through racial contact, and improve black academic performance. Judges have now had 42 years to engineer a better world, and are not done yet, as many school districts are still under court supervision.

In Forced Justice: School Desegregation and the Law, David J. Armor sheds light on the results of this...

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