Brief Fact Summary. The schools of the city of Detroit, Michigan were racially imbalanced in the eyes of the District Court. The court’s remedy was to redraw lines of neighboring suburban school districts to achieve racial balance within the city’s schools.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The District Courts cannot redraw the lines of integrated school systems to achieve racial balance in a segregated school system absent an interdistrict violation or effect.
Issue. May District Courts redraw the boundaries of integrated school districts to achieve integration in a segregated district?
Held. Not without an interdistrict violation or effect.
Chief Justice Warren Burger (J. Burger), writing for the majority, notes that there are many practical difficulties in the proposed plan. It is unclear what the status of currently elected school officials would be in the new “super district;” how taxes would be levied and distributed and who should make curriculum decisions.
The scope of the remedy is determined by the nature and scope of the constitutional violation. In the present case, the discriminatory acts of a single district must be a substantial cause of interdistrict segregation. Thus, if district lines were drawn on the basis of race, or if discriminatory acts of one district caused segregation in another, an interdistrict remedy may be in order. However, this is not the case here.
In devising remedies where legally imposed segregation has been established, it is the responsibility of local authorities and district courts to see to it that future school construction and abandonment are not used and do not serve to perpetuate or re-establish the dual system.View Full Point of Law