IN 1954 the Supreme Court declared that state-Imposed school segregation was unconstitutional and invalidated state laws that assigned children to school on the basis of their race. Today that decision, Brown v. Board of Education, is cited as authority for a network of judicial decisions, laws, and administrative regulations that specifically require institutions to classify people on the basis of their group identity and to deal with them accordingly.
By denying states the power to differentiate among its citizens by race, the Brown decision provided a strong precedent to bar racial discrimination in every realm of civic and public activity. Its effect was strengthened and extended by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The Civil Rights Act embodied the fundamental