Honig v. Students of California School For the Blind

Decision Date01 April 1985
Docket NumberNo. 84-436,84-436
PartiesBill HONIG, Superintendent of Public Instruction of California, et al. v. STUDENTS OF the CALIFORNIA SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND et al
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

471 U.S. 148
105 S.Ct. 1820
85 L.Ed.2d 114
Bill HONIG, Superintendent of Public Instruction of California, et al.



No. 84-436.
April 1, 1985.


Respondents, students of the California School for the Blind, brought this lawsuit in Federal District Court against petitioner state officials, claiming among other things that the school's physical plant did not meet applicable seismic safety standards. Their complaint alleged rights of action under the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, 89 Stat. 773, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1232, 1401, 1405, 1406, 1411-1420, 1453, and § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 87 Stat. 394, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 794. After a lengthy

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trial the District Court issued a "preliminary injunction" requiring the State to conduct additional tests of school grounds to aid in assessment of the school's seismic safety. Petitioners appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292(a)(1). That court affirmed the issuance of the preliminary injunction on the ground that the lower court had not abused its discretion. 736 F.2d 538 (1984). The court expressly noted that it was not finally deciding the merits of the action, but only was assessing the District Court's reasoning to determine whether it had appropriately applied the traditional calculus for granting or denying preliminary injunctions. Id., at 542-543, 546-547, 550.

Petitioners have petitioned this Court for a writ of certiorari to review the judgment of the Ninth Circuit, but in the meantime the tests ordered by the District Court's preliminary injunction have been completed. We therefore are confronted with a situation nearly identical to that addressed in University of Texas v. Camenisch, 451 U.S. 390, 101 S.Ct. 1830, 68 L.Ed.2d 175 (1981), in which the petitioners had completely complied with the terms of a preliminary injunction by the time the case reached this Court. In Camenisch we concluded that "the question whether a preliminary injunction should have been issued here is moot, because the terms of the injunction . . . have been fully and irrevocably carried out." Id., at 398, 101 S.Ct., at 1835. Because only that aspect of the lawsuit was moot, however, we merely vacated the judgment of the Court of Appeals, and remanded the case for further proceedings. Ibid. Here, as in Camenisch, the only question of law actually ruled on by the Court of Appeals was whether the District Court abused its discretion in applying the complicated calculus for determining whether the preliminary injunction should have issued, an issue now moot. No order of this Court could affect the parties' rights with respect to the injunction we are called upon to review. Other claims for relief, however, still remain to be resolved by the District Court. We accordingly

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grant the petition for writ of certiorari, and vacate the judgment of the Court of Appeals, with instructions to remand the case to the District Court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Justice POWELL took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Justice MARSHALL, with whom Justice BRENNAN and...

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