How the Warren Court Expanded Civil Rights in America

When Earl Warren was sworn in as the 14th chief justice of the Supreme Court on October 4, 1953, the United States was on the brink of transition. The civil rights movement hadn’t officially started, but members of marginalized groups were already mobilizing for racial and economic justice.

In the 1940s, both the armed forces and Major League Baseball were desegregated, and civil rights activists began to challenge segregation in interstate travel and food establishments. The Chinese Exclusion Act, which denied Chinese laborers citizenship and immigration privileges, was repealed after taking effect in 1882. And Fred Korematsu stood up for his civil liberties, defying federal orders for Japanese Americans to move into internment camps after Japan’s 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. As men served in the military during World War II, women entered the workforce in greater numbers and wanted more professional opportunities after it ended.

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