The Court issues its landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. For more than 50 years, the "separate but equal" doctrine articulated in the 1896 Plessy decision has allowed school districts across the South to segregate their schools by race. The Court now returns to the segregation issue, and in a unanimous decision holds that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." The decision requires 20 states to desegregate their school systems and is a catalyst for the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
The Court rejects a black citizen's challenge to a state literacy test in Lassiter v. Northampton County Board of Elections, holding that because the test is applied equally to all races, it is not discriminatory.
In Mapp v. Ohio, the Court applies the Exclusionary Rule, which bars the admission of evidence obtained via an illegal search and seizure, to state courts.
Mother and daughter sit on the steps of the Supreme Court building following the Court's announcement of its decision in Brown v. Board of Education.
Reproduction courtesy of Corbis Images
The Court upholds as constitutional a Florida statute exempting women from jury duty unless they voluntarily register to be called. The decision in Hoyt v. Florida states that the law is based on the reasonable premise that women are "still regarded as the center and home of family life," and so may be legally excused from otherwise mandated civic duties.
The Twenty-third Amendment is enacted, granting residents of Washington, D.C. the right to vote in presidential elections. The amendment awards the district the number of electors -- three -- that it would be allotted were it a state. Today, the district remains without representation in either the House of Representatives or the Senate; a 1978 proposed amendment to create seats for the district expired after being ratified by only 16 states within its seven-year time limit.