The Evolution Of Inequality In The US — страница 2

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impoverished and illiterate whites” (”Grandfather Clause”). Jim Crow Laws were “any of the laws that enforced racial segregation in the U.S. South between the end (1877) of the formal Reconstruction period and the beginning of a strong civil-rights movement (1950s)” (”Jim Crow Laws”). Thus, Jim Crow Laws were a large part of black codes.Jim Crow Laws included the statute set by Plessy v. Ferguson, in 1896, of “separate, but equal” (USSC, “Plessy”). With the topic of Plessy v. Ferguson being brought into the situation, one must look at segregation in America as a means of the system reaffirming inequality. “In the Southern states of the United States?legal segregation in public facilities was current from the late 19th century into the 1950s” (”racial

segregation”). Legal segregation in America established the fact that there was inherent inequality in the system. Because of this, “the Civil Rights Movement was initiated by Southern blacks in the 1950s and ’60s to break the prevailing pattern of racial segregation” (”racial segregation”). As a result of this movement, Plessy v. Ferguson was overturned in the 1955 ruling of Brown v. Board of Education (USSC, “Brown”). This did not put an end to legal segregation, but it laid a foundation for the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Civil Rights Act was “comprehensive U.S. legislation intended to end discrimination based on race, colour, religion, or national origin” (”Civil Rights Act”). Though the intent of the Civil Rights Act was good, it was not as effective

as it should have been. It failed to end inequality in the system.Inequality has evolved to fit the newly reformed system. Not just racial inequality adapted to the system, but also inequality towards the indigent and towards women. After all, inequality is not limited to cases of race. Women have been second class citizens since the foundation of America. It wasn?t until the 19th Amendment passed in 1920 that women gained the right to vote (”Constitution”, Amendment XIX). This was fifteen years after the 15th Amendment provided that the right to vote would not be denied on the basis of race or colour (Amendment XV). Yet, it wasn?t until the 24th Amendment in 1964 that poll taxes where prohibited and voting became more accessible to the indigent (Amendment XXIV). Even though

these steps were taken to eliminate inequality in most forms, inequality still occurs in the system.The modern legal system in the U.S. has come to not only accept and hide inequality, but also to depend on inequality to function. Perhaps David Cole said it best, “Absent race and class disparities, the privileged among us could not enjoy as much constitutional protection of our liberties as we do?” (5). The case of Gideon v. Wainwright can be used to illustrate this point. Cole summarizes the case:Clarence Earl Gideon, a penniless Florida man, down on his luck and charged with breaking and entering a poolroom, claims that although he can?t afford a layer, he has a constitutional right to have a lawyer appointed by the state to defend him. When the Florida trial court denies

his request, [Gideon] represents himself, and is convicted. From prison, [Gideon] sends a hand-written note to the Supreme Court asking it to hear his case. ?Abe Fortas [is appointed] to argue Gideon?s case, and then [the Court] rules that the Sixth Amendment guarantees indigent defendants the assistance of a lawyer in all serious criminal trials. On retrial, with a lawyer paid for by the states, Gideon is acquitted. (63)The Gideon v. Wainwright may not appear to support the previous statement: “Absent race and class disparities, the privileged among us could not enjoy as much constitutional protection of our liberties as we do?” (Cole 5). The outcome of Gideon requires government to provide a lawyer to a defendant, “[b]ut as long as the state provides a warm body with a

law degree and a bar admission, little else matters” (64). Even though the state provides indigent defense counsel, most are “underpaid, overworked, and given insufficient resources to conduct an adequate investigation and defense” (84). Cole states that in 1990, “[t]he national average per capita spending on local and state indigent defense was $5.37″ (84). Cole also points out other facts about the ruling in Gideon v. Wainwright:One of the most remarkable facts about the constitutional right declared in Gideon v. Wainwright is that it was not a constitutional right for the first 184 years of our Constitution. The Sixth Amendment guarantees that ?In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right?to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.? But for