ERIC Number: ED239321
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Nov-10
Reference Count: 0
Ethics and Advocacy: Paul Wilson's Defense of Kansas in Brown v. The Board of Education.
Prentice, Diana B.
The appellate argument of Paul Wilson, who represented the Topeka, Kansas, school board in the 1952 Supreme Court case, "Brown v. Board of Education," presents an excellent example of the influence of personal and legal ethics on rhetorical choices. A reluctant advocate of racially segregated education, a policy the Topeka Board of Education was itself abandoning, Wilson presented an argument that avoided questions of educational and social policy and focused on the narrow issue of constitutional power--the constitutionality of the Kansas statute on separate but equal education and the rights of states to govern the issue of segregated schools. When forced to respond to the social science argument that segregation is psychologically damaging to students, Wilson argued that direct injury had not been shown by the appellants. While he thus failed to expose all sides of the issue, Wilson did not attempt to obscure or alter facts. His strategy demonstrated that serving perfect justice to both sides of a dilemma may be impossible, but that it is possible to serve both to one's own satisfaction and to that of those who judge the strategy. (MN)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Brown v Board of Education
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association (69th, Washington, DC, November 10-13, 1983).