BROWN VS. BOARD OF EDUCATION AND THE FACTS. BROWN seems an obvious decision today, and it seemed like an obvious decision to most of us law students. We had been learning common law reasoning, that the facts of a case were of the greatest importance, that a rule of law was to be tested by its applications, that law was more than formal logic. To us, “separate but equal” was never more than a logical possibility. Everybody had to know that the segregated schools were not equal (One of the earlier decisions that the BROWN court relied on rejected the contention that a state with law schools only for whites was able to provide “equal” legal educations). Everybody had to know that “separate but equal” stigmatized. We drove through Alabama in 1962, and the stigma of even the separate drinking fountains was obvious and menacing. This was a world in which in the smallest details of ordinary life, one group of people was being subordinated to another. Washington, D.C. was segregated. The justices must have encountered this inequality on a daily basis.

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