Here I’m hastily reacting to Rob’s post below, shamelessly using my power to create a new entry every time I want to pontificate about God, nature, the Constitution or whatever:
BROWN would have seemed less punitive had it been more assertive. BROWN II was racist in its lack of a timetable for implementation, in its "all deliberate speed." The remedy was not guaranteed to the particular kids whose rights were violated (and they were) but to members of their race at some indefinite time in the future. The South correctly saw in BROWN II a sort of license to stall--and that stalling made the Civil Rights movement necessary, was the real cause of much of the violence and corresponding use of federal troops and eventually of the perceived need for busing etc. Had the Court set a deadline for taking race out of the law of, say, 1958, then implementation might have been somewhat harsher initially but more benign over the long run. I tend to think that more damaging than anything in BROWN I is the more explicit racism or anti-individualism of Brown II. I actually think the strange BROWN I opinion is not oriented toward indefinite progress toward perfection integration but is better understood as a misguided tactical move to shape a radical decision with a seemingly moderate and limited argument--one that didn’t reverse PLESSY (because it had no implications for segregated transportation) and was limited only to primary and secondary education. The argument used in BOLLING v. SHARPE (announced the same day) about racial distinctions in the law being hostile to our tradition or something like that showed that the Court knew better than BROWN and a lot about their real intention.
Listen, the Second Reconstruction could have been handled better but certainly was necessary: The South rose to American dominance only after the end of segregation and the coming of air conditioning.