Mendez v. Westminster School District

Mendez v. Westminster School District: Facts of the Case

Mendez v. Westminster School District: The Court’s Rulings

Called the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954) for Mexican Americans and other Latinos in California, Mendez v. Westminster School District (1947) stands out as the case that ended legally sanctioned segregation for Mexican American students. Mendez was a test case in which social science data were introduced as evidence showing how Mexican American children developed an inferiority complex caused by racial segregation in schools. At the same time, Mendez is additionally noteworthy because it helped to pave the way for the use of a similar line of reasoning in Brown.

In a touch of irony, the then-governor of California and later chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court who authored the unanimous opinion in Brown, Earl Warren, took Mendez and used it to push laws through the legislature repealing school segregation for Asian and Native American school children.

Fenwick W. English

See also Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka; Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka and Equal Educational Opportunities; Equal Protection Analysis; Fourteenth Amendment; Social Sciences and the Law

Further Readings

  • Stewart, A. (2003). Mendez v. Westminster. The right to an equal education, the responsibility of the state to promote California History Day. Los Angeles, CA: Constitutional Rights Foundation. 
  • Mendez v. Westminster: A look at our Latino heritage. (n.d.) Available from http://www.mendezvwestminster.com 

Legal Citations