Opinion - Briggs - Supp.529

It seems to me that it is unnecessary to pore through voluminous arguments and opinions to ascertain what the foregoing means. And while it is true that we have had hundreds, perhaps thousands, of legal opinions outlining and defining the various effects and overtones on our laws and life brought about by the adoption of this Amendment, one of ordinary ability and understanding of the English language will have no trouble in knowing that when this Amendment was adopted, it was intended to do away with discrimination between our citizens.
The Amendment refers to all persons. There is nothing in there that attempts to separate, segregate or discriminate against any person because of their being of European, Asian or African ancestry. And the plaintiff intendment is that all of these persons are citizens. And then it is provided that no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges of citizens nor shall any state deny 'to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.'.

The Amendment was first proposed in 1866 just about a year after the end of the American Civil War and the surrender of the Confederate States government. Within two years, the Amendment was adopted and became part of the Constitution of the United States. It cannot be gainsaid that the Amendment was proposed and adopted wholly and entirely as a result of the great conflict between freedom and slavery. This will be amply substantiated by an examination and appreciation of the proposal and discussion and Congressional debates (see Flack on Adoption of the 14th Amendment) and so it is undeniably true that the three great Amendments were adopted to eliminate not only slavery, itself, but all idea of discrimination and difference between American citizens.

Let us now come to consider whether the Constitution and Laws of the State of South Carolina which we have heretofore quoted are in conflict with the true meaning and intendment of this Fourteenth Amendment. The whole discussion of race and ancestry has been intermingled with sophistry and prejudice. What possible definition can be found for the so-called white race, Negro race or other races? Who is to decide and what is the test? For years, there was much talk of blood and taint of blood. Science tells us that there are but four kinds of blood: A, B, AB and O and these are found in Europeans, Asiatics, Africans, Americans and others. And so we need not further consider the irresponsible and baseless references to preservation of 'Caucasian blood'. So then, what test are we going to use in opening our school doors and labeling them 'white' and 'Negro'? The law of South Carolina considers a person of one-eighth African ancestry to be a Negro. Why this proportion? Is it based upon any reason: anthropological, historical or ethical? And how are the trustees to know who are 'whites' and who are 'Negroes'? If it is dangerous and evil for a white child to be associated with another child, one of whose great-grandparents was of African descent, is it not equally dangerous for one with a one-sixteenth percentage? And if the State has decided that there is danger in contact between the whites and Negroes, isn't it requisite and proper that the State furnish a series of schools one for each of these percentages? If the idea is perfect racial equality in educational systems, why should children of pure African descent be brought in contact with children of one-half, one-fourth, or one-eighth such ancestry? To ask these questions is sufficient answer to them. The whole thing is unreasonable, unscientific and based upon unadulterated prejudice. We see the results of all of this warped thinking in the poor under-privileged and frightened attitude of so many of the Negroes in the southern states; and in the sadistic insistence of the 'white supremacists' in declaring that their will must be imposed irrespective of rights of other citizens. This claim of 'white supremacy', while fantastic and without foundation, is really believed by them for we have had repeated declarations from leading politicians and governors of this state and other states declaring that 'white supremacy' will be endangered by the abolition of segregation. There are present threats, including those of the present Governor of this state, going to the extent of saying that all public education may be abandoned if the courts should grant true equality in educational facilities.

Although some 73 years have passed since the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment and although it is clearly apparent that its chief purpose, (perhaps we may say its only real purpose) was to remove from Negroes the stigma and status of slavery and to confer upon them full rights as citizens, nevertheless, these has been a long and arduous course of litigation through the years. With some setbacks here and there, the courts have generally and progressively recognized the true meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment and have, from time to time, stricken down the attempts made by state governments (almost entirely those of the former Confederate states) to restrict the Amendment and to keep Negroes in a different classification so far as their rights and privileges as citizens are concerned. A number of cases have reached the Supreme Court of the United States wherein it became necessary for that tribunal to insist that Negroes be treated as citizens in the performance of jury duty. See Strauder v. West Virginia4, where the Court says 100 U.S.at page 307, 25 L.Ed. 664; '* * * What is this but declaring that the law in the States shall be the same for the blacks as for the white; that all persons, whether colored or white, shall stand equal before the laws of the States, and, in regard to the colored race, for whose protection the amendment was primarily designed, that no discrimination shall be made against them by law because of their color? The words of the amendment, it is true, are prohibitory, but they contain a necessary implication of a positive immunity, or right, most valuable to the colored race,- the right to exemption from unfriendly legislation against them distinctively as colored- exemption from legal discriminations, implying inferiority in civil society, lessening the security of their enjoyment of the rights which other enjoy, and discriminations which are steps towards reducing them to the condition of a subject race.'