Morales v. Turman

Decision Date21 March 1977
Docket NumberNo. 76-5881,76-5881
Citation51 L.Ed.2d 368,97 S.Ct. 1189,430 U.S. 322
PartiesAlicia MORALES v. James A. TURMAN et al
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

See 430 U.S. 988, 97 S.Ct. 1690.


The motion of American Orthopsychiatric Association et al. for leave to file a brief as amici curiae is granted.

This case from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit involves the proper scope of three-judge-court jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 2281.* Petitioners brought suit challenging allegedly unconstitutional punitive and inhumane conditions in Texas institutions housing juvenile delinquents, and the failure to provide juveniles with the rehabilitation or treatment that justified their confinement. A single District Judge determined that the juveniles' constitutional rights had been violated, and ordered the parties to submit a curative plan. The Court of Appeals vacated the District Court's decision on the ground that a three-judge court should have been convened in accordance with § 2281. 535 F.2d 864 (1976).

The appellate court reasoned that the challenged, unwritten practices of the juvenile institutions administered by the Texas Youth Council were revealed during trial to be statewide in impact and that therefore they were equivalent to a statute with statewide applicability within the meaning of § 2281. Under the Court of Appeals' analysis, the necessity of convening a three-judge court was thus not properly apparent until considerable factual development of the breadth and content of the Texas Youth Council's administrative practices had taken place.

In construing § 2281, this Court has concluded that the three-judge court procedure is brought into play in any 'suit which seeks to interpose the Constitution against enforcement of a state policy, whether such policy is defined in a state constitution or in an ordinary statute or through the delegated legislation of an 'administrative board or commission." Phillips v. United States, 312 U.S. 246, 251, 61 S.Ct. 480, 483, 85 L.Ed. 800 (1941). We have never, however, considered the generalized, unwritten practices of administration to be equivalent to the 'delegated legislation' of an administrative board. In fact that approach was specifically rejected in Baxter v. Palmigiano, 425 U.S. 308, 96 S.Ct. 1551, 47 L.Ed.2d 810 (1976), involving a challenge brought in a single-judge court to the Rhode Island prison system's unwritten rule forbidding counsel at disciplinary hearings. In rejecting the argument that a three-judge court was necessary to resolve that challenge, we noted that the complaint did not meet the threshold requirements of § 2281 jurisdiction; it 'did not mention or challenge any rule or regulation of the Authority; nor did it seek an injunction against the enforcement of any identified rule.' 425 U.S., at 313 n. 2, 96 S.Ct., at 1555. That description applies equally to the complaint in this case.

The ruling in Baxter merely reflected the consistent recognition that the three-judge court procedure is not 'a measure of broad...

To continue reading

Request your trial
38 cases
  • Ruiz v. Estelle
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Texas
    • December 12, 1980 Morales v. Turman, 364 F.Supp. 173 (E.D.Tex.1973), 383 F.Supp. 53 (1974), rev'd, 535 F.2d 864 (5th Cir. 1976), rev'd, 430 U.S. 322, 97 S.Ct. 1189, 51 L.Ed.2d 368, remanded 562 F.2d 933 (5th Cir. 1977), it was found that the repeated and unwarranted hitting, slapping, kicking and punching......
  • Halderman v. Pennhurst State School & Hospital
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Pennsylvania
    • March 17, 1978
    ...(E.D.Tex.1974), rev'd on other grounds, 535 F.2d 864 (5th Cir. 1976), judgment of Court of Appeals rev'd and remanded, 430 U.S. 322, 97 S.Ct. 1189, 51 L.Ed.2d 368 (1977); Wyatt v. Stickney, 344 F.Supp. 387 (M.D.Ala.1972), aff'd in part, remanded in part and decision reserved in part sub nom......
  • Davis v. Balson
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Ohio
    • September 28, 1978
    ...and remanded, 535 F.2d 864 (5th Cir. 1976) (on grounds that issues raised required convening three-judge court), rev'd, 430 U.S. 322, 97 S.Ct. 1189, 51 L.Ed.2d 368 (1977), remanded on rehearing, 562 F.2d 993 (5th Cir. 1977); Clonce v. Richardson, 379 F.Supp. 338 (W.D.Mo.1974); Nelson v. Hey......
  • Philipp v. Carey
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of New York
    • October 3, 1981
    ...a guise for arbitrary action. Cf. Morales v. Turman, 562 F.2d 993, 997 (5th Cir.), rev'd and remanded on other grounds, 430 U.S. 322, 97 S.Ct. 1189, 51 L.Ed.2d 368 (1977). Whatever the rationale for the right, its content has been described as right to a program of treatment that affords th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT