Posted on May 23, 2024

Clarence Thomas Attacks Brown v. Education Ruling Amid 70th Anniversary

Russell Contreras, Axios, May 22, 2024

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas issued a strong rebuke of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling on Thursday, suggesting the court overreached its authority in the landmark decision that banned separating schoolchildren by race.

Why it matters: Thomas attacked the Brown decision in a concurrence opinion that allowed South Carolina to keep using a congressional map that critics say discriminated against Black voters.

Driving the news: The court “took a boundless view of equitable remedies” in the Brown ruling, wrote Thomas, who in 1991 replaced Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall — the first Black Supreme Court Justice and the lead lawyer in the Brown case.

  • Those remedies came through “extravagant uses of judicial power” to end racial segregation in the 1950s and 60s, Thomas wrote.
  • Federal courts have limited power to grant equitable relief, “not the flexible power to invent whatever new remedies may seem useful at the time,” he said, justifying his opinion to keep a predominantly white congressional district in South Carolina.

Zoom out: The U.S. marked the 70th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling last week.