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Multiple Ironies: Brown at 50, 47 Howard Law Journal 29 (2003)


Brown v. Board of Education occupies a vaunted space in American
jurisprudence. One commentator writes that Brown is the most
celebrated case in the Court's history. Equally laudatory, another
commentator remarks: "In the half century since the Supreme Court's
decision, Brown has become a beloved legal and political icon." A
third proclaims that, "Brown forever changed the role of the United States Supreme Court in American politics and society." To the lay
public, Brown sits among a small pantheon of cases that is widely recognizable
to the average American.' Miranda and Roe v. Wade
likely are the only others with equal or greater name recognition. To
many, Brown represents the high point of the Civil Rights movement
in America. On this account, Brown symbolizes an aggressive and
affirmative attack on the effects of white supremacy in a Jim Crow
America and is the doctrinal and normative progenitor of affirmative
action and similar state-sanctioned, race-based, remedial programs.
To others, who hold Brown in equally high regard, it signifies a colorblind
America where one is not judged by race or ethnicity, but by the
content of one's character. Brown is considered an iconic case
among various (often divergent) ideological viewpoints.

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civil rights, history, jurisprudence