The national NAACP had initiated a legal campaign to undermine segregated education in the mid-1930s. By the time Davis was filed, national NAACP attorneys Thurgood Marshall and Robert Carter were litigating Briggs v. Elliott from Clarendon County, South Carolina. Plaintiffs filed similar cases in Kansas, Delaware, and Washington, DC, all challenging the constitutionality of segregation in education. The Supreme Court chose to combine and hear the cases at one time under the Kansas case, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.
The federal district court heard the Davis case February 23-25, 1952. County officials had hired the best lawyers in Richmond and were assisted by state Attorney General J. Lindsay Almond. They argued that segregation was fundamental to Virginia’s way of life. The district court ordered the county to end discrimination in education, but upheld the constitutionality of segregation.
The Supreme Court heard arguments in the Brown cases in December 1952 and again in December 1953. On May 17, 1954, the Court declared segregation unconstitutional, but left unanswered the question of implementation. After further hearings, on May 31, 1955, the Court issued a second decision, often known as Brown II. The justices ordered the cases be remanded to the federal district courts, which were to “enter such orders…to admit to public schools on a racially nondiscriminatory basis with all deliberate speed the parties to these cases.”