“Today marks the 58th anniversary of the 1954 Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark decision that declared separate was not equal in educating our young people. It declared state laws establishing separate rules for African-American and white students unconstitutional for violating the equal protection clause of the 14thAmendment. It was the spark for the modern day Civil Rights movement and ushered in many of the changes which followed. This was an action taken by the Supreme Court which furthered the rights of American citizens, even if it angered segregationists.
“In today’s world, we have a Supreme Court better known for decisions such as Citizens United, which placed enormous power in the hands of the wealthiest Americans. Instead of advancing the rights of most Americans, it stifles the voices of the many by concentrating it in the pocketbooks of the few. With important cases pending before the court – such as the fate of health care reform, and oppressive state immigration laws – this Court could add to its ledger of terrible decisions.
“Our country has come a long way since 1954, and the lives of African-Americans have been improved immeasurably by the tidalwave of change which followed the Brown vs. the Board of Education decision. While we honor that decision and reflect upon the ways America of 1954 compares to America today, let us also realize how much the Supreme Court can influence American society. Thurgood Marshall, who was the attorney for the NAACP in theBrown case, once said ‘Sometimes history takes things into its own hands.’ I was proud to have passed legislation naming our New York City courthouse at 40 Centre Street after Justice Marshall, and he is absolutely correct. In Brown, we were on the right side of history. I would like to believe the Court will be on the right side of history with its upcoming decisions.”