Schools in Mississippi – “Freedom of Choice”

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Facts: Many schools in Holmes County, Mississippi were still segregated fourteen years after the decision of Brown v. Board of Education. Schools in Mississippi had been implementing “freedom of choice” laws so that parents could choose where they wanted to send their children to school (Oyez). An order was passed by the U.S. District Court for Southern Mississippi in 1969, allowing this standard to be upheld. The case was appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth District, where it was reversed and the development of alternate plans from these schools was demanded.

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The case was ultimately taken to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Question: Should the Holmes County district schools be allowed more time to implement plans to desegregate? Holding: No, Justice Black holds that the Supreme Court needs to enforce the desegregation of all schools immediately. In a unanimous decision, Justice Black wrote the opinion of the Court with Justices Burger, Douglas, Harlan, Brennan, Stewart, White, and Marshall. Reasoning: Rule – Justice Black wrote the opinion of the Court referencing Brown v. Board of Education and Green v. County School Board of New Kent County. In referencing both of these cases, it was the opinion of the Court that the precedent of “all deliberate speed” set in Brown is no longer applicable. In Green, Justice Brennan wrote the opinion stating: “‘The time for mere deliberate speed has run out. . . .’ The burden on a school board today is to come forward with a plan that promises realistically to work, and promises realistically to work now” (Justia). Justice Black summed up the decisions of these cases and decided: “These cases, along with others, are the foundation of my belief that there is no longer the slightest excuse, reason, or justification for further postponement of the time when every public school system in the United States will be a unitary one, receiving and teaching students without discrimination on the basis of their race or color… The Fifth Circuit found that the Negro students in these school districts are being denied equal protection of the laws, and, in my view, they are entitled to have their constitutional rights vindicated now, without postponement for any reason” (Justia).

Application – Based on the precedent of Green v. County School Board of New Kent County, it was the opinion of the Court to rid the standard of “all deliberate speed.” Justice Black held that the “freedom of choice” law was not effective enough in desegregating schools. The ruling of this case was that “all deliberate speed” was no longer viable, schools needed to be completely desgregated, and this desegregation needed to take place immediately.”

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Schools in Mississippi - “Freedom of Choice”. (2021, Jun 17). Retrieved from