404 U.S. 541 (1972), 70-55, Board of Regents of University of Texas System

Docket NºNo. 70-55
Citation404 U.S. 541, 92 S.Ct. 652, 30 L.Ed.2d 697
Party NameBoard of Regents of University of Texas System
Case DateJanuary 24, 1972
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Page 541

404 U.S. 541 (1972)

92 S.Ct. 652, 30 L.Ed.2d 697

Board of Regents of University of Texas System

No. 70-55

United States Supreme Court

Jan. 24, 1972

v. New Left Education Project

Argued December 6, 1971

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS

Syllabus

Three-judge district court was improperly convened under 28 U.S.C. § 2281 to consider constitutionality of appellant's rules for campus distribution of certain kinds of literature and for dues solicitation from members of political organizations since challenged rules do not have state-wide applicability or effectuate state-wide policy, but affect only the few of the State's higher education institutions that are under appellant's jurisdiction; and the appeal from that court's judgment should therefore have been taken to the Court of Appeals, and not this Court. Pp. 542-545.

326 F.Supp. 158, vacated and remanded.

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and BRENNAN, STEWART, MARSHALL, and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined. DOUGLAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 545. POWELL and REHNQUIST, JJ., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

WHITE, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case comes here on direct appeal from the ruling of a three-judge court declaring unconstitutional and enjoining enforcement of two sections of the Rules and

Page 542

Regulations of appellant Board of Regents of the University of Texas System. 326 F.Supp. 158 (1970). We postponed consideration of our jurisdiction to a hearing on the merits. 401 U.S. 935 (1971). For reasons explained below, we have concluded that we lack jurisdiction of this appeal.

This litigation began when the Board of Regents sued the New Left Education Project and certain individuals in a Texas court. In that suit, the Regents sought to restrain defendants from distributing a newspaper and making either commercial or noncommercial solicitations on the Austin campus of the University of Texas except in compliance with appellant's rules. Defendants countered by bringing this federal suit to enjoin further state court proceedings on the ground that the rules that the Regents sought to enforce abridged defendants' First Amendment rights. A three-judge court met and determined that it was properly convened pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2281. It then permitted certain other organizations and individuals, including appellees here, to join the suit as plaintiffs and dismissed the action as to those involved in the state court adjudication. Thereafter, the court granted summary judgment in favor of appellees, declaring unconstitutional and permanently enjoining enforcement of two rules, Regents' Rules & Regs., c. VI, pt. 1, §§ 6.11, 6.12 (App. 173), governing the campus distribution of certain kinds of literature and the solicitation of dues from members of political organizations.

We have jurisdiction to review directly the lower court's order granting an injunction only if the case was one required to be heard and determined by a three-judge court. 28 U.S.C. § 1253. Such a court is required where the challenged statute or regulation, albeit created or authorized by a state legislature, has state-wide application or effectuates a state-wide policy. But a single judge, not a three-judge court, must hear the case where the statute or regulation is of only local import. Moody

Page 543

v. Flowers, 387 U.S. 97 (1967); Rorick v. Board of Commissioners, 307 U.S. 208 (1939); Ex parte Public National Bank, 278 U.S. 101 (1928); Ex parte Collins, 277 U.S. 565 (1928). This rule achieves the congressional purpose of saving state-wide regulatory legislation from invalidation through ordinary federal court equity suits, minimizes the burden that the three-judge court places upon the federal judiciary, and avoids unduly expanding the Court's carefully limited appellate jurisdiction. Phillips v. United States, 312 U.S. 246, 250 (1941). Thus, the "term `statute' in § 2281 does not encompass local ordinances or resolutions," Moody v. Flowers, supra, at 101, nor does it include a state statute having only a local impact, even if administered by a state official. Rorick v. Board of Commissioners, supra.

Appellant Board of Regents was created by the Texas Legislature, and is charged with governing those educational institutions in the University of Texas System. Texas Rev.Civ.Stat.Ann., Art. 2585 (1965). This governance, which specifically includes a rulemaking power, ibid., extends to but three of the 23 four-year state colleges and universities listed in the Higher Education Coordinating Act of 1965, id. Art. 2919e-2, § 2 (Supp. 1970-1971): the University of Texas at Austin, El Paso, and Arlington.1 In addition to the 20 senior colleges and universities for which appellant bears no responsibility, Texas has at least 31 public junior colleges that are not within the University of Texas System. Ibid. It is true that the Board of Regents governs numerous medical and other specialized schools and branches, id. Arts. 2603e to 2603i, 2606b to 2606d, but these are only some of the specialized institutions that Texas denominates as agencies of higher education.

Page 544

Id. Art. 2919e-2, §§ 2(e)-(g) (Supp. 1970-1971). It is therefore apparent that the Regents' rulemaking power and the rule at issue in this litigation extend to but a fraction of the campuses in the Texas system of higher public education. These rules can scarcely be described as matters of state-wide concern or expressions of a state-wide policy when a large percentage of Texas colleges and universities are unaffected by them and could not be affected by any pronouncement that a federal court might make on their constitutionality. There is no suggestion or indication of any kind that the Regents' rules are similar to those for other schools or are required by or express state-wide policy.2

Page 545

The situation [92 S.Ct. 655] here is comparable to that in Moody v. Flowers, supra, where we held that three-judge courts were improperly convened to consider challenges to a state...

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1 practice notes
  • THE REMAND POWER AND THE SUPREME COURT'S ROLE.
    • United States
    • Notre Dame Law Review Vol. 96 Nbr. 1, November 2020
    • November 1, 2020
    ...belief."). (275) E.g., Franklin v. Lawrimore, 516 U.S. 801, 801 (1995); Bd. of Regents of the Univ. Tex. Sys. v. New Left Educ. Project, 404 U.S. 541, 545 (1972); Phillips v. United States, 312 U.S. 246, 254 (1941); see also United States v. Belt, 319 U.S. 521, 522-23 (1943) (employing the ......
1 books & journal articles
  • THE REMAND POWER AND THE SUPREME COURT'S ROLE.
    • United States
    • Notre Dame Law Review Vol. 96 Nbr. 1, November 2020
    • November 1, 2020
    ...(275) E.g., Franklin v. Lawrimore, 516 U.S. 801, 801 (1995); Bd. of Regents of the Univ. Tex. Sys. v. New Left Educ. Project, 404 U.S. 541, 545 (1972); Phillips v. United States, 312 U.S. 246, 254 (1941); see also United States v. Belt, 319 U.S. 521, 522-23 (1943) (employing the same proced......

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