Document Type


Publication Date



Warren Court, Brown v. Board of Education, Miranda v. Arizona, Furman v. Georgia


Civil Rights and Discrimination | Jurisprudence | Law and Society


Although the Warren Court had its share of grand decisions, perhaps it should be known instead for its grand goals--particularly the goals of ending America's shameful history of segregation and of providing a broad array of constitutional rights to persons accused of committing crimes. Brown v. Board of Education and Miranda v. Arizona, the two most well-known decisions of the Warren Court (and possibly the two most well-known decisions in the history of the Supreme Court), best capture the Court's labor in the rocky fields of our nation's legal, political, and cultural life. In this Article, we explore certain parallels between Brown and Miranda. These similarities reveal the Warren Court's strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately, however, both decisions reveal the Warren Court's failure to level the playing field for America's students and its suspects. Both decisions have failed to live up to their initial promise; their inherent flaws resonate even today, serving as a constant reminder of perhaps irretrievably lost progress.

Part I of this Article highlights similarities between Brown and Miranda. After examining the similarities, we explore the historical significance of these decisions in Part II. In Part III, we consider some of the reasons Brown and Miranda were so easily integrated into American culture. Finally, because the death penalty is what two of us know the most about, and because it is an immutable fact of academic life that law school professors cannot resist the temptation to opine about their primary interest, in Part IV we will also discuss how the Court's 1972 decision in Furman v. Georgia, which invalidated all then-existing death penalty statutes, bears many important similarities to both Brown and Miranda.

Publication Citation

Published in: Cornell Law Review, vol. 90, no. 2 (January 2005).