The Fourteenth Amendment and Equal Protection
Ratified in 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides, in part, that no state can “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Over the past 150 years, Congress and the courts have applied this “Equal Protection Clause” to our right to equal education.
This year’s Exhibit looks at Equal Protection in Education, including court decisions in:
- Mendez v. Westminster School District, in which the placement of Mexican-American students into separate “Mexican schools” was found to violate their rights under the Equal Protection Clause;
- Brown v. Board of Education, in which the placement of white and African-American students in different public schools on the basis of race was also found to violate the Equal Protection Clause;
- Lau v. Nichols, finding the lack of supplemental language instruction in public school for students with limited English proficiency violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964;
- Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, and Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger, in which certain affirmative action policies used by two universities to increase minority enrollment were upheld while others were struck down; and
- Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, in which public schools were required, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, to provide disabled students with opportunities to make meaningful, “appropriately ambitious” progress.
The Exhibit also looks at Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, enacted in 1972, which prohibits exclusion of a student solely on the basis of sex.See all the Exhibit Panels
Executive Order 9066: History and Legacy
This year, the NJCHS has aligned its educational mission with the Ninth Circuit’s Civics contest – “Not to be Forgotten: Legal Lessons of the Japanese Internment” on this, the 75th Anniversary of Executive Order 9066. With the assistance of resources shared by the Fred T. Korematsu Institute, the Densho Encyclopedia and Digital archives, primary source material, and with the essential input from subject matter experts, the NJCHS created an eight panel Exhibit which explores the antecedents to Executive Order 9066, its tremendous impact on the Japanese American Community, and its aftermath.
Executive Order 9066 is of special importance to the NJCHS as a historical society, since several seminal cases questioning the constitutionality of the Executive Order, including the legal actions brought by Fred Korematsu, Gordon Hirabayashi, Minori Yasui, and Mitsue Endo, arose in the Ninth Circuit.
The Exhibit relies in part on affecting images taken by famous photographers Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams as they documented the process of the Japanese Americans being forced to leave their homes and belongings behind on two weeks’ notice, their transport to temporary “evacuation centers,” and their life in the ten desolate camps in which they were forced to spend several years during WWII. The Exhibit attempts to convey the sentiments of those who were directly affected through use of their own words.
The Exhibit will be traveling throughout the Circuit with stops at federal courthouses in Phoenix, Pasadena, Yosemite, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Fresno, Portland, Idaho, Hawaii, and at the Ninth Circuit Conference in San Francisco. More photos of the Exhibit are available on the Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society’s Facebook page.
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Mendez vs. Westminster School District – 2014
Throughout 2014, the NJCHS sponsored an exhibit about the landmark desegregation case, Mendez et al v. Westminster School District et al. In the 1940s, five Mexican-American families brought suit against four Orange County, California school districts for segregating their children from other students. The Exhibit traces the impact of their suit, including the Ninth Circuit’s order affirming the lower court’s decision in favor of the plaintiffs. The Mendez case later served as a major precedent in the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision.
The award-winning traveling exhibit, entitled “A Class Action: The Grassroots Struggle for School Desegregation in California,” was seen by more than 500 school children in San Diego and Portland. The exhibit also traveled to San Francisco, where it was the subject of a program featuring Ninth Circuit Judge Mary Schroeder, as well as Gonzalo Mendez, Jr., and Beverly Gallegos, who related how their parents brought the original lawsuit in 1946. Ninth Circuit Judge Mary Murguia, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, also spoke about the significance of Mendez v. Westminster to her personally and to the nation.Watch the Program Video
Abraham Lincoln: Self-Made in America December 8, 2011 – February 14, 2012
The ‘Abraham Lincoln: Self-Made in America’ exhibit was created to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of America’s greatest president by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. The exhibit covered Lincoln’s childhood, his self-education, his careers as a surveyor and lawyer, his family life, the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, the 1860 Presidential election, the Civil War, the 13th Amendment, the Emancipation Proclamation, his assassination, and other important periods and events in his life. The reproduction artifacts on display, all modeled from originals in the Presidential Library and Museum, included: Lincoln’s favorite books; his son Tad’s toy cannon; the nameplate from his Springfield home; his stovepipe hat, which he used like a briefcase to hold important papers; a Presidential campaign banner; an axe that Lincoln used to chop wood; the bloody gloves found in Lincoln’s pocket the night of his assassination; and many other unique and interesting items.
EXHIBITED AT THE EDWARD R. ROYBAL U.S. FEDERAL BUILDING AND COURTHOUSE, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA