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2003

Cleveland State University

Civil Rights and Discrimination

Law Faculty Presentations and Testimony

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Case Study Of A Justice: "Courageous" Plessy Dissenter John Marshall Harlan And His African-American "Half Brother," Robert James Harlan Of Ohio, Arthur R. Landever Feb 2003

Case Study Of A Justice: "Courageous" Plessy Dissenter John Marshall Harlan And His African-American "Half Brother," Robert James Harlan Of Ohio, Arthur R. Landever

Law Faculty Presentations and Testimony

Justice Harlan had been a slave-owner; he had opposed the Emancipation Proclamation; he had initially opposed the passage of the 13th Amendment and apparently the 14th; as an Associate Justice, he remained a racist, taking pride in being a member of the white race. Nonetheless, he was the most committed civil rights justice until the period of the 1940s or 1950s. What explains his votes and opinions? Can we know? Does it matter whether we know or not?