What’s your favorite case? It’s a difficult question, but in this episode Christian answers it: the infamous decision in Plessy v. Ferguson that upheld racial apartheid under the “separate but equal” principle. Joe accuses him of cheating a bit, because Christian’s “favorite” is actually Justice Harlan’s celebrated solo dissent. Its greatness, though, does not lie in any sort of perfection. Severely flawed and yet great, at the same time.
This show’s links:
- Plessy v. Ferguson, which you should scan through as bit, as recommended during the show
- Some background here and here on Homer Plessy and his act of civil disobedience
- Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Plessy v. Ferguson: Who Was Plessy?
- Justice Souter’s discussion of Plessy and the role of history in judging (watch from minute one until about minute fourteen) and his Harvard Commencement speech on Plessy
- United States v. Wong Kim Ark, in which Harlan joined a dissent arguing that those children of Chinese citizens who are born in the United States should not receive citizenship; see here for a summary
- Gabriel Chin, The Plessy Myth: Justice Harlan and the Chinese Cases