Abstract: This essay addresses two questions regarding the relationship between judicial and legislative action on civil rights. First, what explains one branch sometimes being in front of the others on civil rights issues? This part of the essay canvasses the period from Reconstruction to the civil rights movement and offers some explanations for why, at different points in time, Congress was ahead of or behind the Court on civil rights. Second, what was the causal connection between Brown v. Board of Education and the landmark civil-rights legislation of the mid-1960s? This part of the essay canvasses several possible ways in which Brown advanced or retarded the civil rights movement, especially focusing on the decision's backlash effect on southern politics.