A court is an institution that is set up by the government to settle disputes through a legal process. Disputes come to court when people cannot agree about what happened: Did Joe run a red light before his car ran into Jim's, or was the light green, as Joe says it was? Was a bank robbed by the person the police think, or was it someone else? Courts play an important role in our society for many reasons. For example, they decide what happened in a case and what should be done about it. They decide how much money one person should pay to another for the damage the first person did to the other. They decide how someone who is found guilty of a crime should be punished. Sometimes a court decision affects more people than those involved in the case. For example: In 1954, the Supreme Court, in Brown v. Board of Education, settled a dispute between the parents of a girl named Linda Brown and the local board of education in Topeka, Kansas. The court decided that requiring black and white children to go to separate public schools violated our Constitution. This decision affected millions of children throughout the United States.