402 U.S. 39 (1971), 420, McDaniel v. Barresi

Docket Nº:No. 420
Citation:402 U.S. 39, 91 S.Ct. 1287, 28 L.Ed.2d 582
Party Name:McDaniel v. Barresi
Case Date:April 20, 1971
Court:United States Supreme Court

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402 U.S. 39 (1971)

91 S.Ct. 1287, 28 L.Ed.2d 582




No. 420

United States Supreme Court

April 20, 1971

Argued October 13, 1970



The Board of Education of Clarke County, Ga. (with a two-to-one white-Negro elementary school system ratio), devised a student assignment plan for desegregating elementary schools which establishes geographic zones drawn to promote desegregation and also provides that pupil in heavily concentrated Negro "pockets" walk or go by bus to schools in other attendance zones. The resulting Negro elementary enrollment ranges from 20% to 40% in all but two schools, where it is 50%. Respondent parents sued to enjoin the plan's operation. The state trial court denied an injunction. The Georgia Supreme Court reversed, holding that the plan violated (1) equal protection because it "[treated] students differently because of their race," and (2) the Civil Rights Act of 1964, because Title IV prohibits a school board from [91 S.Ct. 1288] requiring busing to achieve a racial balance.


1. In compliance with its duty to convert to a unitary system, the school board properly took race into account in fixing the attendance lines. P. 41.

2. Title IV, a direction to federal officials, does not restrict state officials in assigning students within their systems. Pp. 41-42.

226 Ga. 456, 175 S.E.2d 649, reversed.

BURGER, C.J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

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BURGER, J., lead opinion

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE BURGER delivered the opinion of the Court.

We granted certiorari in this case to review a state court order enjoining the operation of a school desegregation plan. The action was brought in the Superior Court of Clarke County, Georgia, by parents of children attending public elementary schools in that county. Named as defendants were the Superintendent of Education and members of the Clarke County Board of Education. The trial court denied respondents' request for an injunction, but, on appeal, the Supreme Court of Georgia reversed, 226 Ga. 456, 175 S.E.2d 649 (1970). This Court then granted certiorari, 400 U.S. 804 (1970).

Beginning in 1963, the Clarke County Board of Education began a voluntary program to desegregate its public schools. The student assignment plan presently at issue, involving only elementary schools, has been in effect since the start of the 1969 academic year. The plan, adopted by the Board of Education and approved by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare,1 relies primarily upon geographic attendance zones drawn to achieve greater racial balance. Additionally, the pupils in five heavily Negro "pockets" either walk or are transported by bus to schools located in other attendance zones.2 As a consequence, the Negro enrollment of each

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