Constitutional Law I, Pages 22–23

Cooper v. Aaron

1958

Facts:

Petitioners, school authorities from Little Rock, AR, asked to postpone their plan to de-segregate their school because it might cause turmoil.

Procedural History:

  • District court granted the requested delay.

  • Court of appeals reversed.

Issue:

Are Supreme Court decisions finding laws unconstitutional binding on those not parties to the case?

Petitioner's Argument:

The Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education does not apply here, because petitioners were not parties to that case.

Reasoning:

It is the courts' job to say what the law is. If states can ignore the judgments of the courts and the rights granted thereby, then the the Constitution becomes a mockery. The state governments were become the supreme law of the land, not the Constitution.

Holding:

Yes, state officials are all bound by Supreme Court decisions, even if they are not parties to the suits.

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