A lot of buzz today about Al Sharpton’s speech at the Democratic Convention last night, particularly this line which some have interpreted as an attack on President Bush as a segregationist:
I suggest to you tonight that if George Bush had selected the court in ’54, Clarence Thomas would have never got to law school.
Whatever the intent of the line, Sharpton’s history is a little off. By 1954, the year of the first Brown decision, the SCOTUS had explicitly dealt with segregation in law schools and higher education in cases like Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, Sipuel v. Oklahoma, Sweatt v. Painter, and McLaurin v. Oklahoma. They helped lay the groundwork for Brown.