429 U.S. 990 (1976), 76-200, Austin Independent School District v. United States

Docket Nº:No. 76-200
Citation:429 U.S. 990, 97 S.Ct. 517, 50 L.Ed.2d 603
Party Name:AUSTIN INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT v. UNITED STATES
Case Date:December 06, 1976
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 990

429 U.S. 990 (1976)

97 S.Ct. 517, 50 L.Ed.2d 603

AUSTIN INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT

v.

UNITED STATES

No. 76-200

United States Supreme Court.

December 6, 1976

OPINION

On petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

The petition for certiorari is granted, the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is vacated, and the case is remanded for reconsideration in light of Washington v. Davis, 426 U.S. 229, 96 S.Ct. 2040, 48 L.Ed.2d 597 (1976).

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Mr. Justice POWELL, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE and Mr. Justice REHNQUIST join, concurring.

I concur in the action of the Court, and agree that there would be no need to address the issue of remedy if the Court of Appeals upon reconsideration of its opinion in light of Washington v. Davis, 426 U.S. 229, 96 S.Ct. 2040, 48 L.Ed.2d 597 (1976), should conclude that there was no constitutional violation. I would nonetheless include the issue of remedy in the remand order because of what appears to be a misapplication of a core principle of desegregation cases. In such cases, this Court has repeatedly emphasized that

"the task is to correct by a balancing of the individual and collective interests, 'the condition that offends the Constitution.' A federal remedial power may be exercised 'only on the basis of a constitutional violation' and, '(a)s with any equity case, the nature of the violation determines the scope of the remedy.' " Milliken v. Bradley, 418 U.S. 717, 738, 94 S.Ct. 3112, 41 L.Ed.2d 1069 (1974), quoting Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 402 U.S. 1, 16, 91 S.Ct. 1267, 28 L.Ed.2d 554 (1971).

As suggested by this Court's remand premised upon Washington v. Davis, supra, the Court of Appeals may have erred by a readiness to impute to school officials a segregative intent far more pervasive than the evidence justified. 1 That

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court also [97 S.Ct. 518] seems to have erred in ordering a desegregation plan far exceeding any identifiable violations of constitutional rights.

As is true in most of our larger cities with substantial minority populations, Austin has residential areas in which certain racial and ethnic groups predominate in the population. Residential segregation creates significant problems for school officials who seek to achieve a nonsegregated school district. In Austin those problems are perhaps accentuated by the geography of the city. Acknowledging these difficulties, the Court of Appeals noted that

"(c)ountless efforts by school officials, consultants, and visiting teams have found it impossible to produce significant desegregation by boundary line changes, contiguous pairing of schools, magnet schools, or other effective means short of cross-town busing incident to noncontiguous pairing of . . . schools. . . ." App. to Pet. for Cert., at 26.

The Court of Appeals then concluded that nothing short of extensive cross-town transportation would suffice.

Designed to achieve a degree of racial balance in every school in Austin,2 the desegregation plan endorsed by the

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Court of Appeals is remarkably sweeping. For kindergarten through...

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