THE NATION: To All on Equal Terms

It was 12:52 p.m., May 17, 1954. At the long mahogany bench sat the nine Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.* From the red velour hangings behind the bench to the great doors at the back of the room, every seat was filled. Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the U.S., picked up a printed document from his desk and began to read in a firm, clear voice.

There was an awesome quiet in the high ceilinged, marble-columned courtroom. The eight Associate Justices gave Warren rapt attention. In the press section, reporters strained forward...

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