Almost every reader of this blog could identify Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark case in which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down racial segregation in public schools in 1954. Some of you may even know that the “Brown” was Linda Carol Brown, an elementary school student, and the Board of Education was the Topeka, Kansas, Board of Education.
What you may not know, and neither did I, was that Brown was not the only plaintiff. Last week Harry Briggs, Jr., another plaintiff in the case, died at age 75. Mr. Briggs’ parents actually brought the suit, but five separate cases were brought together and Brown was the first name used. The others were part of the et al.
I can identify with Mr. Briggs. I too was a plaintiff in a Supreme Court case, March Fong Eu v. San Francisco County Democratic Central Committee. The case established that California political parties had the right to endorse in non-partisan elections and affirmed the free speech rights of California political parties. I was one of the plaintiffs as the Chair of the Santa Clara County Democratic Party. Santa Clara County is where San Jose is located.
Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote the opinion. [Lawyers reading this can look it up. The case is listed as 109 S. Ct. 1013 (1989).]
But here’s the rub. It will always go down as March Fong Eu v. San Francisco County Democratic Party. My chance at glory, and I’m relegated to the et als. I certainly can identify with Mr. Briggs.