The “separate but equal” doctrine affirmed all racial restriction laws in the United States from the Louisiana Railway Law to the Boston, Massachusetts school districts. A groundswell of new “Jim Crow” legislation occurred, especially in the South, disenfranchising poor voters in some districts, re-establishing color lines in others, in transportation, school funding and drinking fountains. Plessy marked a return, to some extent, to rightful state authority affirmed in the 10th Amendment, restricted after the Civil War. In 1954 in Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the Supreme Court overturned Plessy v. Ferguson to declare that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional even if they were otherwise equal in every way. In a 9-0 decision the Court declared that separate was unequal by definition. By expanding the meaning of the 14th Amendment to apply to all sorts of “Civil Rights,” the Court eventually used the same Amendment to issue the Roe v. Wade case in 1973. It remains to be seen if SCOTUS will change its mind on such a use of the 14th Amendment.
Norma McCorvey (left) who was Jane Roe in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case, with her attorney, Gloria Allred, outside the Supreme Court in April 1989, where the Court heard arguments in a case that could have overturned the Roe v. Wade decision