As the justices contemplated their case, a complicated picture emerged. Their opinion would dramatically affect the rights of African Americans in predominantly white America. Massive resistance and violence would be the likely result of any holding that upset the status quo. And yet, by acting courageously, the Supreme Court could align the Constitution with human dignity and equality. A clear and bold decision might just avert looming civil unrest.
To buy time for a consensus, the justices delayed. Several received advice from outside the Court and corresponded secretly with political leaders from the other branches of government. Some leaked information about their views to the press. The president contacted members of the Court privately. Congressmen lobbied the Court as well.
Rumors spread that the president and the chief justice were conspiring over the case.
Norman I. Silber,
Brown and Shades of Gray: Ex Parte Communication in the Litigation Over Racial Justice, 31 Litigation 6
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