Dissenting Opinion, Briggs v. Elliot

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effect upon the mental processes of our young which would remain with them and deform their view of life until and throughout their maturity. This applies to white as well as Negro children. These witnesses testified from actual study and tests in various parts of the country, including tests in the actual Clarendon School district under consideration. They showed beyond a doubt that the evils of segregation and color prejudice come from early training. And from their testimony as well as from common experience and knowledge and from our own reasoning, we must unavoidably come to the conclusion that racial prejudice is something that is acquired and that that acquiring is in early childhood. When do we get our first ideas of religion, nation-ality and other basic ideologies? The vast number of indi-viduals follow religious and political groups because of their childhood raining. And it is difficult and nearly impossible to change and eradicate these early prejudices, however strong may be the appeal to reason. There is absolutely no reasonable explanation for racial prejudice. It is all caused by unreason-ing emotional reactions and these are gained in earl childhood. Let the little child's mind be poisoned by prejudice of this kind and it is practically impossible to ever remove these impressions however many years he may have of teaching by phil-osophers, religious leaders or patriotic citizens. If segrega-tion is wrong then the place to stop it is in the first grade and not in graduate colleges.

From their testimony, it was clearly apparent, as it should be to any thoughtful person, irrespective of having such expert testimony, that segregation in education can never produce equality and that it is an evil that must be eradicated. This case presents the matter clearly for adjudication and I am of the opinion that all of the legal guideposts, expert testimony, common sense and reason point unerringly to the conclusion that the system of segregation in education adopted and practiced in the State of South Carolina must go and must go now.

Segregation is per se inequality.



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As heretofore shown, the courts of this land have stricken down discrimination in higher education and have de-clared unequivocally that segregation is not equality.  But these decisions have pruned away only the noxious fruits.  Here in this case, we are asked to strike its very root.  Or rather, to change the metaphor, we are asked to strike at the cause of infection and not merely at the symptoms of disease.  And if the courts of this land are to render justice under the laws without fear or favor, justice for all men and all kinds of men, the time to do it is now and the place is in the elementary schools where our future citizens learn their first lesson to respect the dignity of the individual in a democracy.

To me the situation is clear and important, particu-larly at this time when our national leaders are called upon to show to the world that our democracy means what it says and that it is a true democracy and there is no under-cover suppres-sion of the rights of any of our citizens because of the pigmen-tation of their skins.  And I had hoped that this Corut would take this view of the situation and make a clear cut declaration that the State of South Carolina should follow the intendment and meaning of the Constitution of the United States and that it shall not abridge the privileges accorded to or deny equal pro-tection of its laws to any of its citizens.  But since the majority of this Court feel otherwise, and since I cannot concur with them or join in the proposed decree, this Opinion is filed as a Dissent.

J. Waites Waring


Charleston, South Carolina
Date: June 21, 1951





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