There were two political factions on the Court, the liberal Black/Douglas ring, and the conservative Jackson/Frankfurter ring. The four acted like spoiled children when decorum was the rule and expectation. The general atmosphere was poisonous: the Truman appointees, Harold Burton, Sherman Minton, and Tom Clark were not the intellectual titans of the other four, but they looked on aghast at the soap opera taking place in the Supreme Court.
Truman tried to make the Court more collegial, and nominated his old friend Fred Vinson as Chief Justice, whom Truman viewed as likable, gregarious, and a skilled conciliator. But Vinson's skill in bringing people together didn't present itself as Chief Justice, where the issues and people were far too complex for simple solutions and compromises.
Thurgood Marshall started working for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1936. By 1950, due at least in part to Marshall's efforts, the Supreme Court had outlawed discrimination in graduate schools, tilting away from Separate But Equal. During December 1952, Vinson was clearly very nervous about the Brown case. Frankfurter wanted segregation to end, but he predicted a 5 - 4 vote in favor, and that narrow margin would make implementation of the Court's order impossible; Frankfurter succeeded in delaying the Brown case until December 1953.
In September 1953, Vinson suddenly died of a heart attack - who would President Eisenhower nominate as Chief Justice? Ike wanted a political moderate like himself. Ike offered the nomination to his Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, knowing with almost 100% certainty that Dulles would turn it down. Speculation centered on Earl Warren, the liberal Republican Governor of California; it's historically debatable whether Ike owed Warren a favor from the Republican National Convention of 1952 (Warren supported Ike over Robert Taft). What bothered Civil Rights advocates was that as California Attorney General, Warren signed the order to relocate 80,000+ Japanese-Americans to internment camps not long after Pearl Harbor. During June 1943, California Governor Earl Warren reaffirmed his decision as attorney general in terms of Japanese-American internment.
Warren as California's governor was both an optimist and an activist. Warren didn't bring an ideology to the Court, but his experience told him what government could do to help people. Warren wasn't intimidated by the four FDR appointees, even with their experience and intellectual capacities. They knew about the law, but Warren knew about the consequences of legal decisions.
Three things mattered most to Chief Justice Earl Warren: Equality, Education, and a Right to a Decent Life. Warren made an excellent first impression with his new colleagues, who were not easy to impress. Ike would soon discover that Warren was not the moderate he had sought for Chief Justice. Ike had long been removed form the reality of America, being in the military, and then as President. ike had been isolated from the changes in American society, where Warren had not.
Warren also wanted to keep Frankfurter from writing a long concurring opinion that would water-down the impact of the unanimous decision. The first conference for Warren on the Brown case occurred on 13 December 1953, and Jackson still needed to be convinced, viewing Marshall's NAACP brief as mere sociology, not law, but he was gradually won over by Warren. Jackson wanted to write a second opinion, which on the one hand recognized social changes in America, but then Jackson went on about mixed-race people that could be viewed as actually be white. Jackson's heart attack on 30 March 1954 ended his effort at finishing his potentially controversial-and-dividing concurring opinion.
The Brown decision ended legal segregation, and deprived segregationists their moral legitimacy. While most of the nation, especially Southern states, basically ignored the decision in terms of integrating schools, a change of consequence did indeed occur. After the Brown decision, the media felt obligated to cover stories about racial prejudice as never before . . . one era was ending, and another was beginning . . .