Parker v. Mandel

Decision Date14 June 1972
Docket NumberCiv. No. 71-1089.
Citation344 F. Supp. 1068
PartiesAlvin PARKER et al., Plaintiffs, v. Marvin MANDEL, Governor of Maryland, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Maryland

Stuart H. Rome, and William J. Giacofci, Baltimore, Md., for individual plaintiffs and intervening plaintiffs.

George L. Russell, Jr., City Sol., Ambrose T. Hartman, Deputy City Sol., Carol S. Sugar and Howard E. Wallin, Asst. City Sols., for plaintiffs Mayor and City Council of Baltimore City and Director of Finance of Baltimore City.

Francis B. Burch, Atty. Gen., Henry R. Lord, Deputy Atty. Gen., Richard G. McCauley and E. Stephen Derby, Asst. Attys. Gen., for defendant Marvin Mandel, Governor, and for other Maryland State officials named as defendants.

George W. Liebmann, Shale D. Stiller, and Frank, Bernstein, Conaway & Goldman, Baltimore, Md., and Richard S. McKernon, Acting County Atty., Rockville, Md., for defendant Montgomery County.

HARVEY, District Judge:

Presently before the Court is another of the many suits brought in state and federal courts since Serrano v. Priest, 5 Cal.3d 584, 96 Cal.Rptr. 601, 487 P.2d 1241 (1971), in which state systems for financing public school education have been challenged as unconstitutional.1 Plaintiffs and intervening plaintiffs in the action before this Court are school children attending public schools in Baltimore City and in eight Maryland counties and their parents, most of whom have paid local property or income taxes. Both State and City officials were named as defendants in the original complaint, but in the amended complaint the City officials have been realigned as parties plaintiff. Plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment decreeing that the Maryland statutory system of financing public school education is unconstitutional as violative of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Federal jurisdiction is claimed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 1343.

The original complaint requested the convening of a three-judge court under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2281 and 2284. However, after defendants initially moved to dismiss on various grounds, an amended complaint was filed eliminating such request, and the parties have agreed that this case should be heard by a single judge.2

Defendants named in the amended complaint are the Governor of Maryland and other State officials charged with the responsibility of administering State laws relating to the financing and operation of a public school system in Maryland. Although not originally a defendant, Montgomery County was granted leave to intervene as such and has accordingly been named as a defendant in the amended complaint.3 Defendants have now filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint on various jurisdictional and other grounds. The many questions presented by such motion have been fully briefed and ably argued by both sides.4

In essence, plaintiffs in the amended complaint assert two separate causes of action. In their first cause of action, they allege that defendants are charged with specific duties in connection with public education in the State of Maryland by Art. VIII, § 1 of the Maryland Constitution, which requires that the General Assembly "establish throughout the State a thorough and efficient System of Free Public Schools; and shall provide by taxation, or otherwise, for their maintenance." Plaintiffs allege that the State undertakes to discharge this responsibility financially by supplying various types of state aid to local subdivisions while requiring local governments to provide the substantial balance of the current costs of education mainly through local real property and income taxes.5 It is asserted that this system of financing public education makes the expenditure for each child's education a function of the wealth of such child's parents and his neighbors as measured by the taxable wealth per pupil of the subdivision in which the child happens to reside. Plaintiffs further allege that there is a wide disparity in the abilities of the local governments to finance public education and in the per pupil amounts spent for current educational costs, inasmuch as the amount of the taxable wealth per pupil varies widely among the 24 subdivisions of the State. This reliance on local taxes, as well as specific inequities allegedly present in the state aid formulae, are claimed to favor the wealthier subdivisions. Because of the alleged direct relationship between expenditures for public education and both the quality of the education and the educational opportunity afforded, the school children-plaintiffs assert that they are receiving education inferior to that afforded children in wealthier subdivisions. These plaintiffs claim that there is neither a rational basis for nor a compelling state interest served by such discrimination, in violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The second cause of action is asserted by the parents of the school children-plaintiffs. The parent-plaintiffs allege that they pay real property or income taxes to their local subdivisions, and they complain that Maryland's system for financing public education requires them to pay, in order to receive the same or lesser educational opportunities for their children, higher taxes than do other taxpayers in wealthier subdivisions similarly situated. They likewise assert that the State laws establishing this system violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

As relief, the plaintiffs ask the Court to enter a decree declaring void Maryland's statutory system of financing public education. They would have the Court retain jurisdiction after the entry of such a declaratory judgment to allow the defendants and the Maryland General Assembly a reasonable time to restructure the system so that the quality of public education and educational opportunity measured by per pupil expenditures would no longer be a function of the taxable wealth of a school district, or of the parents located there, or of any entity other than the State of Maryland as a whole. If the system were not so restructured in a reasonable time, plaintiffs would have the Court take steps to provide "such further relief as may be just and equitable."

Defendants advance eight separate grounds in support of their motion to dismiss. They argue (1) that the grant of the relief sought is barred by the Eleventh Amendment; (2) that 28 U.S. C. § 1341, the Tax Injunction Act of 1937, prohibits this Court from granting the relief requested by plaintiffs; (3) that the amended complaint does not state a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 because of the failure of the plaintiffs to allege the jurisdictional amount in controversy; (4) that the questions presented are political and otherwise non-justiciable; (5) that this Court does not have equity jurisdiction to grant the relief prayed; (6) that this Court should abstain from resolving this controversy until the state courts have construed the statutes attacked here; (7) that the amended complaint here does not state a cause of action under 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983; and (8) that the amended complaint should be dismissed for failure generally to state a claim on which relief can be granted. Having heard argument and having reviewed the briefs, this Court concludes that the motion to dismiss should be denied.

Jurisdictional Questions

Defendants claim first that the grant of relief sought here is barred by the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution, which provides as follows:

The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.

This jurisdictional prohibition quite clearly extends to a suit by a citizen against his own state. Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1, 10 S.Ct. 504, 33 L.Ed. 842 (1890). However, plaintiffs base their action on the oft-cited exception established by Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 28 S.Ct. 441, 52 L.Ed. 714 (1908), which held that a state official seeking to carry out an unconstitutional state law is deemed stripped of his representative character and may be sued as an individual acting illegally.

Defendants urge the Court to look beyond the named defendants and the formal relief requested and to recognize that the suit is in fact against the State of Maryland itself, inasmuch as it will require not only cessation of the allegedly illegal individual conduct but, ultimately, affirmative action by the State itself. In particular, defendants argue that the plaintiffs desire, and that a plaintiffs' victory would necessarily lead to, increased appropriations by the Maryland General Assembly so as to bring spending for public education in all subdivisions in the State up to the level of the wealthiest. The plaintiffs respond by pointing out that they desire only "fiscal neutrality" by the State in the distribution of funds for local public schools and that they are seeking no particular level of spending but rather a reallocation of available funds on some basis other than the present one which they allege is partially tied to local wealth.

This Court would be blinking at obvious facts were it to assume that a plaintiffs' victory in this suit would not in time result in some affirmative State action. Indeed, plaintiffs request the Court to retain jurisdiction after entry of a decree to permit the State Legislature to restructure Maryland's system for financing public school education. However, most federal court decisions holding unconstitutional the actions of state officials necessarily lead in time to some affirmative state action to correct the unconstitutional statute or procedure which underlay the official conduct. See Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 585-586, 84 S.Ct. 1362, 12 L.Ed.2d 506 (1964). Plaintiffs would leave to the Legislature the precise manner...

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7 cases
  • Pauley v. Kelly
    • United States
    • West Virginia Supreme Court
    • February 20, 1979
    ...of Education, 347 U.S. 483, 74 S.Ct. 686,98 L.Ed. 873 (1954). 4. Evans v. Buchanan, 379 F.Supp. 1218 (D.Del.1974). 5. Parker v. Mandel, 344 F.Supp. 1068 (D.Md.1972). 6. Adkins v. School Board of Newport News, Virginia, 148 F.Supp. 430 (E.D.Va. 1957). 7. Mills v. Lowndes, 26 F.Supp. 792 (D.M......
  • Hornbeck v. Somerset County Bd. of Educ.
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals
    • April 5, 1983
    ...by state legislatures in dealing with matters which today occupy a substantial portion of their time and attention." Parker v. Mandel, 344 F.Supp. 1068, 1079 (D.Md.1972). In this regard, it must be noted that many, if not all, of these rights could, within the Rodriguez formulation of funda......
  • Lujan v. Colorado State Bd. of Educ.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court
    • May 24, 1982
    ...Brown not because education is a fundamental interest, but because classification by race is clearly suspect. Accord Parker v. Mandel, 344 F.Supp. 1068, 1077 (D.Md.1977); Robinson v. Cahill, 14 Memorial Hospital v. Maricopa County, 415 U.S. 250, 94 S.Ct. 1076, 39 L.Ed.2d 306 (1974) (indigen......
  • Dorsey v. Solomon
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Maryland
    • July 26, 1977
    ..."strict scrutiny" or "compelling state interest" test as compared to the "reasonable basis" test, see Parker v. Mandel, 344 F.Supp. 1068 (D.Md. 1972), at pages 1075-1080. 8 There is a three-month waiting period for insanity acquittees. Md.Ann.Code, Art. 59, § 9 These new regulations were pr......
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