Warren Court: Definition, Cases & Decisions

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  • 0:03 What Was the Warren Court?
  • 1:03 Racial Discrimination
  • 1:40 Voters' Rights
  • 2:10 Right to Counsel
  • 2:27 Right to Privacy
  • 2:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Janell Blanco
In this lesson, we'll examine the Warren Court and see some of the cases and decisions that were made during that time. There will be a quiz at the end of the lesson.

What Was the Warren Court?

Throughout the years, there have been many moments that have defined an era or a generation. One of those eras in history that changed civil rights, for the better, is known as the Warren Court, the period from 1953 to 1969 when Earl Warren served as chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. During this time, the Supreme Court overturned several court decisions made before Warren's tenure as chief justice.

Many people scrutinized the court system during this period because they felt that Warren and the other justices were implementing laws and not ruling properly on cases. Politicians and citizens felt the court system had become too liberal. What changes did the Warren Court make? These cases included topics such as racial discrimination, right to counsel, right to privacy, the First Amendment, and criminal procedures. We will take a look at some of the cases overturned and the decisions made.

Racial Discrimination

The first ruling that the Warren Court made was on Brown v. Board of Education. The Supreme Court justices decided in 1954 that it was unconstitutional to have separate public schools for black and white students. The Warren Court's decision overruled the Supreme Court's previous decision in Plessey v. Ferguson in 1896, which had made it constitutional to segregate facilities such as schools and trains. The justices' decision in Brown v. Board of Education later initiated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voter's Rights Act of 1965.

Voters' Rights

The Warren Court ruled on two important cases concerning voters' rights. First, it upheld the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which made it unconstitutional to discriminate against voters based on race, color, or membership in a minority group.

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