tv Legacies of Supreme Court Landmark Cases CSPAN May 25, 2021 11:31pm-12:30am EDT
up next, descendants and participants of a landmark supreme court cases talk about the legacies of those historic decisions. cases discussed include -- the united states during world war two. brown versus board of education during the civil rights era. and tinker v. des moines during the vietnam war. the national constitution center in philadelphia hosted this hour-long event. >> my name is vince dangle, and i'm the executive vice president and chief operating officer here at the national constitution center. and i'm so delighted to welcome into the special event. a panel discussion on some of the supreme's most significant landmark cases. when the stories of we the people become cases before the united states supreme court, and when these courses result in the opinions of the court,
history turns. the ways in which we think about and live under the constitution are reflected in the courts interpretations and both their historical context and their legacies. some cases and the courts opinions in them so profoundly alter our constitutional understandings, that they can only rightly be called, landmark cases. markers of where we have traveled as a nation. as a part of an initiative begun in 2015, the national constitution center partnered with c-span to create a 12 part series illustrating the history, issues and people involved in monumental landmark cases. through the resulting online videos and other classroom resources available at landmark cases thought c-span dot org, students and educators can carefully analyze some of the most famous and infamous cases. last year, we continue this initiative through a series of town hall discussions, and
depth articles on our constitution daily blog and the publication of the 2017 addition of a popular, civic calendar, which featured 12 beautifully designed many posters highlighting 15 landmark cases. today's event is the culmination of this initiative and we are thrilled that our three panelists have joined us to celebrate constitution day and to talk to you more about these historic cases. so without further ado, please join me in welcoming today's panel. karen is the founder and executive director of the institute, named for her father, the petitioner in the case, komatsu the united states. cheryl brown henderson is the president of the brown foundation. her father, oliver brown, was the lead petitioner in the case brown v. board of education. john tanker, along with his sister mary beth was a co-petitioner in the case, tinker v. des moines, independent community school district. in recent years, zhang and mary beth have traveled the country on their tanker tour bus,
telling students their story. joining our panelists is the national constitution center's director of education, mike adams who will moderate today's discussion. let's give our panelists and moderator a warm round of applause. >> good afternoon everybody. welcome to the national constitution center on constitution day. the best day of the year here to be here. joining me onstage as vince just said, are people closely related to three landmark supreme court cases the law took place of the twins says to, so not that long ago. and that is program what will do is all introduce each of our panelists, they'll tell you a little bit of the background of the supreme court case in which
their father, or john's case, where themselves involved in the case but talk about with the court ruled, how it impacted our lives and why those cases are still relevant today. our first speaker, to my left is karen. karen is the founder and executive director of the fatigue court -- established in 2009. and the daughter of the late fred, the petitioner in the landmark supreme court case, komatsu versus united states. since her father's passing in 2005, karen has carried on fred's legacy as the civil rights advocate, public speaker and public educator. she shares her passion for social justice and education and k-12 public and private students, colleges and universities, law schools, teacher conferences and organizations across the country. one of her most significant accomplishments was working to successfully established in 2011, a perpetual fred korematsu day of civil liberties and the constitution, for the state of california on january 30th. fred korematsu was the first asian american in u.s. history
to have been honored with the statewide day. please welcome karen. if you would like to begin by kind of giving us some of the background of the case, or tell us a little bit about the booth and mueller go audience to know about the case. >> well thank you. and it's a pleasure to be with all of you today on constitution day. it's very exciting to talk to the next generation about the importance of our constitution. my father, as he said had the landmarks of the court case of cormon to versus the united states. as a result of the world war ii japanese american incarceration. so, after the bombing of pearl harbor on december 7th, 1941, president roosevelt issued executive order 9:06 six on
february 19th, 1942 that gave the authority to military to forcibly remove anyone of japanese ancestry from the west coast and send them to american concentration camps across this country. on hundred and 20,000 people were incarcerated. two thirds are american citizens. one third were under the age of 18 and were students like you. my father thought this was wrong because all due process of law was denied. no one had been charged with a crime, no one had access to an attorney, no one had their day in court and so, my father thought, why should he have to go to a prison camp when he had done nothing wrong. so he avoided the military
orders, just decided that it was wrong and eventually, a month later, after everyone had been sent off to the detention assembly centers along the west coast, he was arrested. and the director at that time in northern california, affiliate of the american civil liberties union visited my father in jail and said, you, know would your father be willing to take his case, if need be all the way to the supreme court and my father said yes because he believed in this country and he believed in the constitution and so, it took a couple years to appeal and if you know about the judicial system, you know, do you have to kind of lose at one level in order to go up? so eventually, you know, through the system he handed -- his case ended up in the supreme court. it took almost two years. so on december 18th, 1944, the
supreme court decision was issued. but it was not unanimous. it was a six to three decision so there were six justices that agreed that the military orders were constitutional and three did not. and the three dissenting opinions are the most recognized studies today. and really, the most relevant. so justice jackson refer to my father's supreme court case as this lies around, like a loaded weapon, ready for anyone to pick up and use with a possible cause. and actually, after 9/11 in 2001, my father's case was sided. as a possible reason to roundup arab and muslim americans and put them in american concentration camps. justice murphy called it the ugly abyss of racism. justice owen roberts said, this
is unconstitutional. so, clearly the court was not completely in agreement. and, but my father, even though he was totally disappointed never gave up hope that someday his case could be reopened. it took almost 40 years for that to happen. and after the freedom of information act, you could go to archives in washington d.c. and do the research and the files of the government. and they found what was called, the smoking gun. meaning they found the document that proved there was no military necessity at the time of my father's arrest and when the japanese americans were incarcerated. there was never any evidence of any spying hearing any espionage from the japanese americans and actually, at the time of my father's supreme court hearing, in 1944, the department of justice had
withheld evidence, had destroyed evidence and had altered evidence. so on that basis, there's a judicial law term called quorum no base. and quorum no base means an error has been made before us. an error has been made before the court. and so, on that basis, they were able to reopen my father supreme court case and it was proven that there was government misconduct at the time. and his federal conviction was overruled or vacated. and that means, he no longer had a federal prison record bus his case is still on the supreme court record. when you win at a federal court level, there was no basis to go up. you can go up to let's say a court of appeals her back up to the supreme court.
so it would take another president in order for it to be cited. but it's been discredited but it still has been referred to, even to this day. so when the immigration was banned, my father's case has been noted in reference to creating this possible muslim registry that we have heard about. so, my father never gave up hope that someday he could reopen up his supreme court case. and after 40 years, that's a long time to never give up hope. but i didn't even find out about my's father supreme court case until i was in high school. so i was 16 years old. no one had talked about my father's case. and my friend was giving a book report about the japanese american incarceration and my father's case. and she cited quorum onto versus a night estates. and that kind of, you know, flintstone thought, oh, that's
my name. and i had 35 pairs of eyes turned around looking at me, i'm trying my shoulders because she didn't say fred, so she only said korematsu versus united states. and i thought well, that's the black sheep of the family. and then i find out later that evening that it was indeed my father and, you, know he was waiting until i cut holder to understand what had happened at that time. but also, the whole japanese american community never really spoke about that time in history because they had been arrested, they had been put in prison and they carried the shame around like they had done something wrong all those years. so it took my father's case to be reopened to lift that shame and to regain and their dignity. >> and we have to have time for one or two quick questions. it is anybody have questions
for karen about the case? yeah, i will be right down with a microphone in just a second we have a question down here in the four through. stand up. there you go. >> when you found out about your father's case, he made you cry or did you feel emotional about it? >> that's a very good question. i didn't cry. i didn't really know or understand what it meant to have a federal prison record. it's not like today, you see all these shows on television about, you know, people getting rested and crimes and all that. i was a long time ago. but i didn't -- i just didn't know how to really digest the information. and so, i just kept it to myself.
my friends, my class mates the next day asked me, was that about my father? and i just said. yes and i just kind of shrugged it off and so, i really didn't start understanding about the impact that my father's case until the case was reopened in 1983 and at that time, i was 33 years old. so, because i had a lot of prejudice and racism that was against me growing up, so when i was an elementary school and the teacher was talking about the bombing of pearl harbor and it would show the bombing of pearl harbor, how many of you students have the the bombing of pearl harbor? picture right. so the picture with throw that up on the board but she wouldn't say, you know, how do you treat people that have been really targeted, that live in this country? how would you feel? there was never that kind of discussion. so, the kid said it was my fault for the bombing of pearl
harbor. they called me racist names. got to the point where i couldn't even ride the school bus. and so, i felt a bit, you know, kind of ashamed. and then my brother, who was four years younger, had the same kind of experience. but we didn't even talk about it to each other until after we had graduated from high school. >> one more question in the middle here. knit >> did your father feel happy when he got out of prison? >> well, yes. i would say what happened was he was arrested and he had a bail hearing in san francisco. and even though he received bail, so another words somebody paid the money so he can be kind of free intel his case was heard before the court again. the military police was standing outside the courtroom.
and because the executive orders and the exclusion orders have been issued were no one from the west coast of japanese ancestry could stay, he was taken over to the detention assembly center, which was like a prison. which was basically just horse stalls. so they just whitewash that the horse stalls and put people in there. and they were treated worse -- they were treated inhumane and worse than animals. and then he was sent over to one that the ten concentration camps in utah. so it wasn't until after, towards the end of the war, the war that he was able to be free. >> thank you. karen, everybody! >> the next case that will be looking at is a case you might be a little bit more familiar with. brown v. board of education.
our next panelists will show brown henderson. cheryl is one of three daughters of the late reverend, who in the fall of 1950, along with 12 other parents led by attorneys for the naacp filed suit on behalf of their children against the local board of education. the case joint from cases from delaware, south carolina, virginia and washington d.c., on appeal to the u.s. supreme court. and on may 17th, 1954 became known as a landmark decision, brown v. board of education of kansas. brown died in 1961 before knowing the impact this case would have on the nation. travel is the founding president of the brown foundation for educational equity, excellence and research. and owner of brown and associates educational consulting form. cheers extensive background educational business, having served owned and national boards. and addition, she has two decades of experience and political advocacy, public policy implementation and federal legislative
development. in 1990, under her leadership, the foundation successfully worked with the united states congress to establish the brown fee board of education national park which opened in may of 2004. please welcome the sharon brown henderson. >> well, first of all, i want to thank the constitution center and thank all of you for your interest in being here and caring and our fellow panelist, mr. tinker. the supreme court decisions are very important. i can't overstate the importance. because they affect your lives every day. brown versus board of education, particular. how many of you are familiar with the 14th amendment of the constitution? >> some of you are familiar. i would suggest you become familiar. because what supreme court cases do, they interpret for us, the me in eating of the
constitution, for example. before brown versus the board of education, we were living under a system of states. i don't know if you know what that means? means that the supreme court had not definitively interpreted for the country. you know, the 14th amendment of the constitution. so states were just deciding, kind of here and there what you could and couldn't do. so everybody in blue shirts couldn't write about school, they had to walk. everybody has with brown hair, had to go to school with people with brown hair. just all over the place. and especially for african american people. a lot of you watch the news today and you see the protests. against how african american males, in particular, are treated. while brown versus the board of education, a lot of the early activities, activism, was all about similar issues. some, took over 100 years, a century, for brown versus board
of education to take place. first time parents, people buy -- like your parents took to court the issue of why can my kids go to any school? i'm paying taxes on every school. but you are signing my child to school based solely on the color of their skin. 1849 in boston massachusetts, the first documented case. so 105 years later, in 1954, the brown versus board of education, we experienced a legal victory, not a social victory, but a legal victory. i'll explain what i mean by that in just a minute. now kansas is my home state. and i imagine if you have never been to cancel, have any of you ever been to? chances did you stop? because we realized that it is not a people place people go on vacation. but, kansas has been a very important state to the civil rights history of this country. even before brown v. board of
education in 1954, and my state of kansas, there were 11 schools segregation cases. no other state in the nation, african american pan variance in cases kansas were swing for the right that their children to attend any school. not waiting to be assigned to a school based solely on the skin color. what i mean by a legal victory? first of all, brown was a collective action. it wasn't a single individual. a lot of the textbooks, a lot of the websites are absolutely wrong. and now they talk about brown versus the board. and my father didn't wake up one day and decide i'd have enough. you know, i'm going to sue the school board. brown v. board was collective action. led by the naacp, the national association for the advancement of colored people and their legal defense fund.
they recruited people, there were plaintiffs in these cases, as you heard there -- were cases in brown, delaware, kansas, virginia, south carolina and washington d.c.. one of the cases was organized by teenagers, led by 16-year-old girl on her own who called for a strike at her segregated school, for the right to have better facilities. the rest were apparent driven cases. so my father got involved because one day, just this simply, history knocked on our door. in the form of a childhood friend who is now -- they want a great school together, they want to join a heist together, the multi school together. charles went off to world war ii and came back and became an attorney. one sunday afternoon, he knocked on our door and asked my father if he'd be willing to join this case they were organizing. to sue the school board.
so the children would no longer have to be assigned based on race. the public school. nine deaths -- because but time, everybody that signed, up every parent was a mom. you know, a married lady but a mom. rather than take the list of losing her job because back then, if you stood up for your rights, the larger community, the white community in particular could fire, you cut off your credit, and your mortgage, all sorts of things would happen if you took that kind of public stance. so oftentimes, it would be the moms who were homemakers. that didn't have that risk. so my dad's obvious question was, will there be more men? because at that point, he was the only one long story short, they were sure that they were going to continue asking people. but by the fall of 1960, he ended up being the only man.
and we think that's where the case was named for him. it was not something my father did on his own. it was a collective. action he was after push to piece -- because if you look at the roster of mitigates in the kansas kates, there were 12 women and one man, my father oliver brown. alphabetically, my father was not first. another one of those myths but he was in fact the only man and at that time, what we call a gender politics, when men where the head of things. so we believed that he was -- his name was placed at the top of the list. because he was number 10 to sign on as a plaintive. this is the situation. you see, one of the things we do as a nation, we have these amazing documents. we have the declaration of independence, we have the bill of rights, we have the constitution. and they say wonderful things but it takes an awful lot of work to make those words have
meeting so what you see for example now, with the protest against the police killings and the cavalier murders of unarmed african american men, the activism you see is necessary to brown v. board of education on may 17th 54 12:52 pm would've been the governor of california, we have that connection. presided over the japanese he announced the country that brown meal in the announcement that had been decided. surprising everybody that he would do would happen in california and turn around as the supreme court justice and work really hard to make sure that every single justice for date yes and brown v. board of education. he did that. but you see, when brown of was decided and that was announced, a lot of people and the country, particular in certain parts of the country in the south, it didn't want african americans
to have the same rights as white americans. we're very unhappy about that. that's why it took a civil rights movement. that's why it took our legislation before this really became rio. while the words in the paper are meaningless unless they are enforced, unless there is some sort of action that makes them real. so brown v. board of did this. for everybody in the room, whether you are white, hispanic, latino, native, asian, disabled, it doesn't matter. what brown did for all of you is it defined that the people of this country cannot have their sovereign rights, arbitrarily restricted by state or local governments. brown did that for all of you. so it wasn't simply a matter of challenging the notion of segregated schools, it went much beyond that when you
consider how our country was vacating, ignoring if you will, the constitution when it came to people. when it came to women! some of you may be aware of the women's rights movement. so, brown versus board, i believe, is considered one of the most important cases in the country because it was a beginning point. brown made it possible for them art from selma attempt montgomery. one of the attorneys and brown, jack greenberg argued the right for him to march lawfully across that bridge. after the first march when john lewis was battered. so it takes more than simply illegal pronouncements. so whatever courage you to think about in your own lives, what is it you believe strongly about? what's going on in your school? what's going on in your church? what's going on in your community? that you can take a stand for. you can organize for. because every single generation
has a responsibility. the pick up where we left off. i'm proud of the fact that brown v. board various my father's name. there were hundreds of people along with him that were part of this. but also know that the work is not done. if i can turn on my television and the last three years and see what i have been seeing, it's not your turn. you are here now. we know, we didn't create the challenges that were confronted with that oftentimes. but it's up to us to decide if they stop with us. and what role we are going to play. so i believe brown is a case of activism, it's a case that was a catalyst for so much that came after. but it's also a point of pride for me, much like miss karen. and i take that responsibility of maintaining the legacy very seriously. [applause] >> i think i think