1956 October 18

Southern States Violating the Law, Charges ACLU


The ACLU charged on this day that states in the southeastern U.S., where racial segregation prevailed, were violating the law with respect to the advocates of integration. The statement cited a number of anti-NAACP and anti-racial integration laws passed by southern states that violate the Constitution. The southern states had adopted a policy of “massive resistance” to racial integration in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education on May 17, 1954.

A number of the laws that were adopted eventually reached the Supreme Court and were found to be unconstitutional in decisions that made important new First Amendment law. An Alabama law directed at the NAACP resulted in the landmark decision of NAACP v. Alabama, decided on June 30, 1958, which established a constitutional freedom of association. A set of Virginia laws designed to restrict the NAACP’s legal activity, meanwhile, resulted in NAACP v. Button, decided on April 2, 1963, which established protection for activist litigation efforts.

Learn more: George Lewis, Massive Resistance: The White Response to the Civil Rights Movement (2006)

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