The decision was unanimous. Chief Justice Earl Warren delivered the opinion of the Court.
These cases [Brown and others] were decided on May 17, 1954.
The opinions of that date, declaring the fundamental principle that
racial discrimination in public education is unconstitutional, are
incorporated herein by reference. All provisions of federal state, or
local law requiring or permitting such discrimination must yield to this
principle. There remains for consideration the manner in which relief
is to be accorded . . . .
Full implementation of these constitutional principles may require
solution of varied local school problems. School authorities have the
primary responsibility for elucidating, assessing, and solving these
problems; courts will have to consider whether the action of school
authorities constitutes good faith implementation of the governing
constitutional principles . . . .
While giving weight to . . . public and private considerations, the
courts will require that the defendants make a prompt and reasonable
start toward full compliance with our May 17, 1954, ruling. Once such a
start has been made, the courts may find that additional time is
necessary to carry out the ruling in an effective manner. The burden
rests upon the defendants to establish that such time is necessary in
the public interest and is consistent with good faith compliance at the
earliest practicable date. To that end, the courts may consider problems
related to administration, arising from the physical condition of the
school plant, the school transportation system, personnel, revision of
school districts and attendance areas into compact units to achieve a
system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial
basis, and revision of local laws and regulations which may be necessary
in solving the foregoing problems.
. . . [T]he cases are remanded to the District Courts to take such
proceedings and enter such orders and decrees consistent with this
opinion as are necessary and proper to admit to public schools on a
racially nondiscriminatory basis with all deliberate speed the parties
to these cases.
Questions to Consider
On the basis of this decision, what were segregated school districts required to do to comply with the 14th Amendment?
What problems does the Court foresee with the desegregation process?
Do you get the sense from this ruling that school districts must desegregate immediately? Why or why not?