The Chief Justice and Justice Days show compellingly that no statemandated system of race-based segregation, whether in public places generally or specifically in the public schools, can stand against a constitutional principle of civil equality. I join the Court's conclusion that such a principle is brought to bear on the states by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and that Plessy v. Ferguson must accordingly be overruled.
As I understand it, the legal principle that decides these cases is one of equality of membership in the civil community. It is an antimonarchical, anti-aristocratical principle of one-size-fits-all civil membership, opposed to the legal imposition of caste or any graded public status.1 It was first made applicable to the states, as a matter of national constitutional law, by the Fourteenth Amendment. I wish to make clear, however, my view that the principle in question is not one that entered our Constitution for the first time with the enactment of the amendment. Rather, it has been from the beginning a basic premise of the American constitutional venture, not the less so for having been honored in the breach for the greater part of our history. Only by so understanding it can we explain robustly our legal conclusions in all of the cases before us.
One of these cases, no. 8, Bolling v. Sharpe, involves a constitutional challenge to segregation in the public schools of the District of Columbia, while four of them are from the states. My colleagues all give