This Day in Legal History: Anti-KKK Legislation, Supreme Court Upholds Busing

On this day in 1871, Congress passed a law intended to end the terror tactics being used against African-Americans and others by a white supremacist group called the Ku Klux Klan that had been formed after the end of the Civil War. Popularly known as the Ku Klux Klan Act, it authorized President Ulysses S. Grant to use martial law and military force and provided for severe penalties for those involved in the Klan’s night raids, in which tactics ranging from intimidation to murder were used to disenfranchise those who supported post-War reconstruction. Much of the act was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court two decades later, however. For details, see this Legal Encyclopedia page on the Web site.

On this day in 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the use of busing as one appropriate means of desegregating public schools in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 402 U.S. 1. For the opinion text, see this Howard University School of Law Web page on the progeny of the historic Brown v. Board of Education case that started the school desegregation process.

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