318 F.Supp. 710 (W.D.N.Y. 1970), Lee v. Nyquist

Citation:318 F.Supp. 710
Party Name:Donald R. LEE, Phyllis Johnson, David Collins, Erwin Johnson, John Medige and Norman Goldfarb on behalf of their children, themselves and all citizens of the United States and residents of New York State similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. Ewald B. NYQUIST, Commissioner of Education of the State of New York, theBoard of Regents of the University of
Case Date:October 01, 1970
Court:United States District Courts, 2nd Circuit, Western District of New York
 
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Page 710

318 F.Supp. 710 (W.D.N.Y. 1970)

Donald R. LEE, Phyllis Johnson, David Collins, Erwin Johnson, John Medige and Norman Goldfarb on behalf of their children, themselves and all citizens of the United States and residents of New York State similarly situated, Plaintiffs,

v.

Ewald B. NYQUIST, Commissioner of Education of the State of New York, theBoard of Regents of the University of the State of New York, Joseph Manch, Superintendent of the Board of Education of the City of Buffalo, and the Boardof Education ofthe City of Buffalo, Defendants, Frank P. Chropowicki, Charlotte King, PatriciaHollenbeck, Jerome Walter, and D. Laurie Pawlowski, Defendants-Intervenors.

Civ. 1970-9.

United States District Court, W.D. New York.

Oct. 1, 1970

Argued June 26, 1970

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Herman Schwartz and David J. Mahoney, Jr., Buffalo, N.Y. (Jack Greenberg, Sylvia Drew, New York City, of counsel), for plaintiffs.

Jean M. Coon, Asst. Atty. Gen., State of New York (Louis J. Lefkowitz, Atty. Gen., State of New York, Ruth Kessler Toch, Sol. Gen., of counsel), for defendants Ewald B. Nyquist and the Board of Regents of the State of New York.

Anthony Manguso, Corp. Counsel, City of Buffalo, N.Y., and Herbert B. Forbes, Asst. Corp. Counsel, on brief for defendants Board of Education of the City of Buffalo and Joseph Manch, Superintendent of the Board of Education of the City of Buffalo.

Denis M. Hurley, Brooklyn, N.Y. (John F. Haggerty, Hurley, Kearney & Lane, Brooklyn, N.Y., of counsel), for defendants-intervenors.

Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hays & Handler, New York City, submitted a brief amicus curiae for the National Education Assn. of the United States, New York State Teachers Assn., and Buffalo Teachers Federation.

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Burt Neuborne, New York Civil Liberties Union, New York City, submitted a brief amicus curiae for the plaintiffs in Shepard et al. v. Board of Education of the City of New York et al.

Before HAYS, Circuit Judge, HENDERSON, Chief District Judge, and BURKE, District Judge.

HAYS, Circuit Judge:

The question in this case is whether Section 3201(2) of the New York Education Law (McKinney 1970), enacted as Chapter 342, (1969) Laws of New York, 1306, denies 'to any person * * * the equal protection of the laws' in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

Section 3201(2) of the New York Education Law provides as follows:

2. Except with the express approval of a board of education having jurisdiction, a majority of the members of such board having been elected, no student shall be assigned or compelled to attend any school on account of race, creed, color or national origin, or for the purpose of achieving equality in attendance or increased attendance or reduced attendance, at any school, of persons of one or more particular races, creeds, colors, or national origins; and no school district, school zone or attendance unit, by whatever name known, shall be established, reorganized or maintained for any such purpose, provided that nothing contained in this section shall prevent the assignment of a pupil in the manner requested or authorized by his parents or guardian, and further provided that nothing in this section shall be deemed to affect, in any way, the right of a religious or denominational educational institution to select its pupils exclusively or primarily from members of such religion or denomination or from giving preference to such selection to such members or to make such selection to its pupils as is calculated to promote the religious principle for which it is established.

Section 3201(2) prohibits state education officials and appointed school boards from assigning students, or establishing, reorganizing or maintaining school districts, school zones or attendance units for the purpose of achieving racial equality in attendance. By the terms of the statute, elected boards continue to have power to engage in such activities.

Plaintiffs, parents of children attending the Buffalo public schools, governed by an appointed school board, 1 brought this suit on behalf of themselves, their children and all others similarly situated to enjoin the enforcement of Section 3201(2) and to declare the statute unconstitutional on the ground that it denies equal protection of the laws. Plaintiffs' complaint is that Section 3201(2) invidiously discriminates against efforts to eliminate racial imbalance in the public schools.

Defendants are the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York, the Commissioner of Education of the State of New York, the Superintendent of the Board of Education of the City of Buffalo and the Board of Education of the City of Buffalo. Intervening as defendants are other parents of children attending Buffalo public schools, who are opposed to the position advocated by the plaintiffs.

This three-judge court was convened to hear and determine this action. 28 U.S.C. § 2284 (1964); see 28 U.S.C. 2281 (1964). We hold that Section 3201(2) denies the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth

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Amendment and that its enforcement must be permanently enjoined.

I.

This court's jurisdiction to award the relief plaintiffs request is clear and is not questioned by defendants. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1988 (1964) and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1343(3), 2201 (1964). Defendants, however, do contest plaintiffs' standing to bring the action; therefore, we turn first to that issue.

In Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 101, 88 S.Ct. 1942, 1953, 20 L.Ed.2d 947 (1968), the Supreme Court said: 'In terms of Article III limitations on federal court jurisdiction, the question of standing is related only to whether the dispute sought to be adjudicated will be presented in an adversary context and in a form historically viewed as capable of judicial resolution.' This is turn depends upon whether the party seeking relief has "alleged such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions.' Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 204, 82 S.Ct. 691, 7 L.Ed.2d 663 (1962),' Flast v. Cohen, supra, 392 U.S. at 99, 88 S.Ct. at 1952.

In resolving the issue, there are two inquiries to be made. First, whether there is a 'logical nexus' between the status plaintiffs assert and the claim sought to be adjudicated, 2 Flast v. Cohen, supra at 102, 88 S.Ct. 1942, and, second, whether plaintiffs are harmed in fact, economically or otherwise, by the law against which their complaint is directed. See Association of Data Processing Service Organizations, Inc. v. Camp, 397 U.S. 150, 152, 90 S.Ct. 827, 25 L.Ed.2d 184 (1970).

Plaintiffs clearly satisfy the 'logical nexus' test. They are parents of children attending buffalo public schools, suing on behalf of themselves, their children and all others similarly situated. 3 Some of their children are in schools where there is a high degree of racial concentrations. 4 Their complaint is that Section 3201(2) invidiously discriminates against efforts to promote equal educational opportunity by alleviating racial imbalance in the public schools. Consequently there is a logical nexus both between plaintiffs' status and the legislation attacked and between their status and the constitutional infringement alleged. See Flast v. Cohen, supra, 392 U.S. at 102-103, 88 S.Ct. 1942. Plaintiffs, for themselves and their children, are the logical parties to attack the constitutionality of a law directly affecting the state's educational policy. They are also proper parties to assert the right to be free from racial discrimination in public education, Their interest is both personal and direct. See Adler v. Board of Education, 342 U.S. 485, 503, 72 S.Ct. 380, 96 L.Ed. 517 (1952) (dissenting opinion of Frankfurter, J.). Cf. Barrows v. Jackson, 346 U.S. 249, 73 S.Ct. 1031, 97 L.Ed. 1586 (1953).

It is also clear that plaintiffs are harmed by Section 3201(2), in that the educational policies to which their children

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are subjected are directly affected by the operation of the statute.

Although there may be no constitutional duty to undo de facto segregation, see Offermann v. Nitkowski, 378 F.2d 22, 24 (2d Cir. 1967), it is by now well documented and widely recognized by educational authorities that the elimination of racial isolation in the schools promotes the attainment of equal educational opportunity and is beneficial to all students, both black and white. 5 The Regents of the University of the State of New York in their 1969 Restatement of Policy on Integration and the Schools said at p. 3:

'The elimination of racial segregation in the schools can enhance the academic achievement of non-white children while maintaining achievement of white children and can effect positive changes in interracial understanding for all children. The latter consideration is paramount. If children of different races and economic and social groups have no opportunity to know each other and to live together in school, they cannot be expected to gain the understanding and mutual respect necessary for the cohesion of our society. The stability of our social order depends, in large measure, on the understanding and respect which is derived from a common educational experience among diverse racial, social, and economic groups-- integrated education. The attainment of integrated education is dependent upon the elimination of racial segregation in the schools.'

Plaintiffs' complaint is that Section 3201(2) impedes efforts to institute programs aimed at reducing racial imbalance in the schools. Defendants contend that plaintiffs lack standing to make this complaint since there is no...

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