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Law Clerks Remember Brown Court Deliberations

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – All nine justices who ruled in the Brown vs. Board of Education school segregation case 50 years ago are now dead. But some of their law clerks survive. And Wednesday, they told the story of what went on behind closed doors in the Supreme Court.

The law clerks were just young men, fresh out of law school, when they arrived at the Supreme Court at what was perhaps the most exciting time in the court's history.

It was the early 1950s and people were starting to fight back against Plessy vs. Ferguson, an 1896 Supreme Court case that established the "separate but equal" standard in the nation. For African-Americans, it was "separate and unequal." Their schools were inferior, some without lunchrooms, music rooms, gyms or even bathrooms. By 1952, the Supreme Court agreed to hear five cases.

Click the "listen" icon above to hear Mark Scott's story on the months leading up to the Brown vs. Board of Education decision.