Brief for Appellants in Nos. 2 (1,) and 3 and for Respondents in No. on Further Reargument (5 )
I. Answering Question 4: Only a decree requiring desegregation as quickly as prerequisite administrative and mechanical procedures can be completed will discharge judicial responsibility for the vindication of the constitutional rights of which appellants are being deprived In the normal course of judicial procedure, this Court's decision that racial segregation in public education is unconstitutional would be effectuated by decrees forthwith enjoining the continuation of that segregation. Indeed, in Sipuel v. Board of Regents, 332 U.S. 631, when effort was made to secure postponement of the enforcement of similar rights, this Court not only refused to delay action but accelerated the granting of relief by ordering its mandate to issue forthwith.
In practical effect, such disposition of this litigation would require immediate initiation of the administrative procedures prerequisite to desegregation, to be followed by the admission of the complaining children and others similarly situated to unsegregated schools at the beginning of the next academic term. This means that appellees will have had from May 17, 1954, to September, 1955, to complete whatever adjustments may be necessary.
If appellees desire any postponement of relief beyond that date, the affirmative burden must be on them to state explicitly what they propose and to establish that the requested postponement has judicially cognizable advantages greater than those inherent in the prompt vindication of appellants' adjudicated constitutional rights. Moreover, when appellees seek to postpone the enjoyment of rights which are personal and present, Sweatt v. Painter, 339 U.S. 629; Sipuel v. Board of Regents, 332 U.S. 631, that burden is particularly heavy. When the rights of school children are involved the burden is even greater. Each day relief is postponed is to the appellants* a day of serious and irreparable injury; for this Court has announced that segregation of Negroes in the public schools "generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone.…" And, time is of the essence because the period of public school attendance is short.
A. Aggrieved parties showing denial of constitutional rights in analogous situations have received immediate relief despite arguments for delay more persuasive than any available here. Where a substantial constitutional right would be impaired by delay, this Court has refused to postpone injunctive relief even in the face of the gravest of public considerations suggested as justification therefor. In Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579, this Court upheld the issuance of preliminary injunctions restraining the Government's continued possession of steel mills seized under Presidential order intended to avoid a work stoppage that would imperil the national defense during the Korean conflict. The Government argued that even though the seizure might be unconstitutional, the public interest in uninterrupted production of essential war materials was superior to the owners' rights to the immediate return of their properties. It is significant that in the seven opinions filed no Justice saw any merit in this position. If equity could not appropriately exercise its broad discretion to withhold the immediate grant of relief in the Youngstown case, such a postponement must certainly be inappropriate in these cases where no comparable over-riding consideration can be suggested.
Similarly in Ex parte Endo, 323 U.S. 283, this Court rejected the Government's argument that hardship and disorder resulting from racial prejudice could justify delay in releasing the petitioner. There, the argument made by the Government to justify other than immediate relief was summarized in the Court's opinion as follows (pp. 296–297):
It is argued that such a planned and orderly relocation was essential to the success of the evacuation program; that but for such supervision there might have been a dangerously disorderly migration of unwanted people to unprepared communities; that unsupervised evacuation might have resulted in hardship and disorder; that the success of the evacuation program was thought to require the knowledge that the Federal government was maintaining control over the evacuated population except as the release of individuals could be effected consistently with their own peace and well-being and that of the nation; that although community hostility towards the evacuees has diminished, it has not disappeared and the continuing control of the Authority over the relocation process is essential to the success of the evacuation program. It is argued that supervised relocation, as the chosen method of terminating the evacuation, is the final step in the entire process and is a consequence of the first step taken. It is conceded that appellant's detention pending compliance with the leave regulations is not directly connected with the prevention of espionage and sabotage at the present time. But it is argued that Executive Order No. 9102 confers power to make regulations necessary and proper for controlling situations created by the exercise of the powers expressly conferred for protection against espionage and sabotage. The leave regulations are said to fall within that category.
In a unanimous decision, with the Court's opinion by Mr. Justice Douglas and two concurring opinions, the Court held that the petitioner must be given her unconditional liberty because the detention was not permissible by either statutory or administrative authorization. Viewing the petitioner's right as being in that "sensitive area of rights specifically guaranteed by the Constitution" (p. 299), the Court rejected the Government's contention that a continuation of its unlawful course of conduct was necessary to avoid the harmful consequences which otherwise would follow.
It is true that in the Endo case the contention rejected was that an executive order (which on its face did not authorize the petitioner's detention) ought to be extended by "construction" so as to entitle the Relocation Authority to delay the release of the petitioner until it felt that social conditions made it convenient and prudent to do so. In this case, the suggestion is that this Court, in the exercise of its equity powers, ought to withhold appellants' constitutional rights on closely similar grounds. But this is not a decisive distinction. If, as the Endo case held, the enjoyment of a constitutional right may not be deferred by a process of forced construction on the basis of factors closely similar to the ones at work in the instant case, then certainly this Court ought not to find in its equitable discretion a mandate or empowerment to obtain the same result.
In the Endo case, the national interest in time of war was present. In these cases, no such interest exists. Thus, there is even less basis for delaying the immediate enjoyment of appellants' rights.
Counsel have discovered no case wherein this Court has found a violation of a present constitutional right but has postponed relief on the representation by governmental officials that local mores and customs justify delay which might produce a more orderly transition.
It would be paradoxical indeed if, in the instant cases, it were decided for the first time that constitutional rights may be postponed because of anticipation of difficulties arising out of local feelings. These cases are brought to vindicate rights which, as a matter of common knowledge and legal experience, need, above all others, protection against local attitudes and patterns of behavior.5 They are brought, specifically, to uphold rights under the Fourteenth Amendment which are not to be qualified, substantively or remedially, by reference to local mores. On the contrary, the Fourteenth Amendment, on its face and as a matter of history, was designed for the very purpose of affording protection against local mores and customs, and Congress has implemented that design by providing redress against aggression under color of state laws, customs and usages. 28 U.S.C. § 1343; 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Surely, appellants' rights are not to be enforced at a pace geared down to the very customs which the Fourteenth Amendment and implementing federal laws were designed to combat.
Cases in which delays in enforcement of rights have been granted involve totally dissimilar considerations. Such cases generally deal with the abatement of nuisances, e.g., New Jersey v. New York, 283 U.S. 473; Wisconsin v. Illinois, 278 U.S. 367; Arizona Copper Co. v. Gillespie, 230 U.S. 46; Georgia v. Tennessee Copper Co., 206 U.S. 230; or with violations of the anti-trust laws, e.g., Schine Chain Theaters v. United States, 334 U.S. 110; United States v. National Lead Co., 332 U.S. 319; United States v. Crescent Amusement Co., 323 U.S. 173; Hartford-Empire Co. v. United States, 323 U.S. 386; United States v. American Tobacco Co., 221 U.S. 106; Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States, 221 U.S. 1.
These cases are readily distinguishable, and are not precedents for the postponement of relief here. In the nuisance cases, the Court allowed the offending parties time to comply because the granting of immediate relief would have caused great injury to the public or to the defendants with comparatively slight benefit to the plaintiffs. In the instant cases, a continuation of the unconstitutional practice is as injurious to the welfare of our government as it is to the individual appellants.
In the anti-trust cases, delay could be granted without violence to individual rights simply because there were no individual rights on the plaintiff's side. The suits were brought by the Government and the only interest which could have been prejudiced by the delays granted is the diffuse public interest in free competition. The delays granted in anti-trust cases rarely, if ever, permit the continuance of active wrongful conduct, but merely give time for dissolution and dissipation of the effects of past misconduct. Obviously, these cases have nothing to do with ours.
It should be remembered that the rights involved in these cases are not only of importance to appellants and the class they represent, but are among the most important in our society. As this Court said on May 17th:
Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society. It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment. In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.
Neither the nuisance cases nor the anti-trust cases afford any support for delay in these cases. On the contrary, in cases more nearly analogous to the instant cases, this Court has held that the executive branch of the government could not justify the detention of wrongfully seized private property on the basis of a national economic crisis in the midst of the Korean conflict. Nor could the War Relocation Authority wrongfully detain a loyal American because of racial tension or threats of disorder. It follows that in these cases this Court should apply similar limitations to the judiciary in the exercise of its equity power when a request is made that it delay enjoyment of personal rights on grounds of alleged expediency.
B. Empirical data negate unsupported speculations that a gradual decree would bring about a more effective adjustment. Obviously, we are not aware of what appellees will advance on further argument as reasons for postponing the enforcement of the rights here involved. Therefore, the only way we can discuss Question 4(b) is by conjecture in so far as reasons for postponement are concerned.
There is no basis for the assumption that gradual as opposed to immediate desegregation is the better, smoother or more "effective" mode of transition. On the contrary, there is an impressive body of evidence which supports the position that gradualism, far from facilitating the process, may actually make it more difficult; that, in fact, the problems of transition will be a good deal less complicated than might be forecast by appellees. Our submission is that this, like many wrongs, can be easiest and best undone, not by "tapering off" but by forthright action.
There is now substantial documented experience with desegregation in this country, in schools and elsewhere.6 On the basis of this experience, it is possible to estimate with some accuracy the chances of various types of "gradual" plans for success in minimizing trouble during the period of transition.
Some plans have been tried involving a set "deadline" without the specification of intervening steps to be taken. Where such plans have been tried, the tendency seems to have been to regard the deadline as the time when action is to be initiated rather than the time at which desegregation is to be accomplished. Since there exists no body of knowledge that is even helpful in selecting an optimum time at the end of which the situation may be expected to be better, the deadline date is necessarily arbitrary and hence may be needlessly remote.7
A species of the "deadline" type of plan attempts to prepare the public, through churches, radio and other agencies, for the impending change. It is altogether conjectural how successful such attempts might be in actually effecting change in attitude. The underlying assumption—that change in attitude must precede change in action—is itself at best a highly questionable one. There is a considerable body of evidence to indicate that attitude may itself be influenced by situation8 and that, where the situation demands that an individual act as if he were not prejudiced, he will so act, despite the continuance, at least temporarily, of the prejudice.9 We submit that this Court can itself contribute to an effective and decisive change in attitude by insistence that the present unlawful situation be changed forthwith.
As to any sort of "deadline" plan, even assuming that community leaders make every effort to build community support for desegregation, experience shows that other forces in the community will use the time allowed to firm up and build opposition.10 At least in South Carolina and Virginia, as well as in some other states affected by this decision, statements and action of governmental officials since May 17th demonstrate that they will not use the time allowed to build up community support for desegregation.11 Church groups and others in the South who are seeking to win community acceptance for the Court's May 17th decision cannot be effective without the support of a forthwith decree from this Court.
Besides the "deadline" plans, various "piecemeal" schemes have been suggested and tried. These seem to be inspired by the assumption that it is always easier and better to do something slowly and a little at a time than to do it all at once. As might be expected, it has appeared that the resistance of some people affected by such schemes is increased since they feel arbitrarily selected as experimental animals. Other members in the community observe this reaction and in turn their anxieties are sharpened.12
Piecemeal desegregation of schools, on a class-by-class basis, tends to arouse feelings of the same kind13 and these feelings are heightened by the intra-familial and intra-school differences thus created.14 It would be hard to imagine any means better calculated to increase tension in regard to desegregation than to so arrange matters so that some children in a family were attending segregated and others unsegregated classes. Hardly more promising of harmony is the prospect of a school which is segregated in the upper parts and mixed in the lower.
When one looks at various "gradual" processes, the fact is that there is no convincing evidence which supports the theory that "gradual" desegregation is more "effective."15 On the contrary, there is considerable evidence that the forthright way is a most effective way.16
The progress of desegregation in the Topeka schools is an example of gradualism based upon conjecture, fears and speculation regarding community opposition which might delay completion of desegregation forever. The desegregation plan adopted by the Topeka school authorities called for school desegregation first in the better residential areas of the city and desegregation followed in those areas where the smallest number of Negro children lived. There is little excuse for the school board's not having already completed desegregation. Apparently either the fact that the school board, in order to complete the transition, may have to utilize one or more of the former schools for Negroes and assign white children to them or the fact that it must now reassign some 700 Negro children to approximately seven former all-white schools, seems to present difficulties to appellees. One must remember that in Topeka there has been complete integration above the sixth grade for many years. The schools already desegregated have reported no difficulties. There can hardly be any basic resistance to nonsegregated schools in the habits or customs of the city's populace. The elimination of the remnants of segregation throughout the city's school system should be a simple matter.
No special public preparations involving teachers, parents, students or the general public were made, nor were they necessary in advance of either the first or second step in the implementation of the Board's decision to desegregate the school system. Indeed, the Board of Education adopted the second step in January, 1954, and the only reports of what was involved were those published in the newspapers. Negro parents living in these territories were not notified by appellees regarding the change, but transferred their children to the schools in question on the basis of information provided in the newspapers. As far as the teachers in those schools were concerned, they were merely informed in the Spring of 1954 that their particular schools would be integrated in September. Thus, delay here cannot be based upon need for public orientation.
It should be pointed out that of the 23 public elementary schools, there exists potential space for some additional 83 classrooms of which 16 such potential classrooms are in the four schools to which the majority of the Negroes are now assigned. No claim can be made that the school system is overcrowded and unable to absorb the Negro and white children under a reorganization plan. There is no discernable reason why all of the elementary schools of Topeka have not been desegregated.
As is pointed out in the Brief for Petitioners on Further Reargument in Bolling v. Sharpe (No. 4, October Term, 1954) the gradualist approach adopted by the Board of Education in Washington, D.C., produced confusion, hardship and unnecessary delay. Indeed, the operation of the "Corning Plan" has produced manifold problems in school administration which could have been avoided if the transition had been immediate. The argument that delay is more sound educationally has been shown to be without basis in fact in the operation of the District of Columbia plan—so conclusively, in fact, that the time schedule has been accelerated. The experience in the District argues for immediate action.
To suggest that this Court may properly mold its relief so as to serve whatever theories as to educational policy may be in vogue is to confuse its function with that of a school board, and to confuse the clear-cut constitutional issue in these cases with the situation in which a school board might find itself if it were unbound by constitutional requirements and were addressing itself to the policy problem of effecting desegregation in what seems to it the most desirable way. But even if a judgment as to the abstract desirability of gradualism could be supported by evidence, it is outside the province of this Court to balance the merely desirable against the adjudicated constitutional rights of appellants. The Constitution has prescribed the educational policy applicable to the issue tendered in this case, and this Court has no power, under the guise of a "gradual" decree, to select another.
We submit that there are various necessary administrative factors which would make "immediate" relief as of tomorrow physically impossible. These include such factors as need for redistricting and the redistribution of teachers and pupils. Under the circumstances of this case, the Court's mandate will probably come down in the middle or near the close of the 1954 school term, and the decrees of the courts of first instance could not be put into effect until September, 1955. Appellees would, therefore, have had from May 17, 1954, to September, 1955, to make necessary administrative changes.
II. Answering Question 5: If this court should decide to permit an "effective gradual adjustment" from segregated school systems to systems not based on color distinctions, it should not formulate detailed decrees but should remand these cases to the courts of first instance with specific directions to complete desegregation by a day certain In answering Question 5, we are required to assume that this Court "will exercise its equity powers to permit an effective gradual adjustment to be brought about from existing segregated systems to a system not based on color distinctions" thereby refusing to hold that appellants were entitled to decrees providing that, "within the limits set by normal geographic school districting, Negro children should forthwith be admitted to schools of their choice." While we feel most strongly that this Court will not subordinate appellants' constitutional rights to immediate relief to any plan for an "effective gradual adjustment," we must nevertheless assume the contrary for the purpose of answering Question 5.17
Question 5 assumes that there should be an "effective gradual adjustment" to a system of desegregated education. We have certain difficulties with this formulation. We have already demonstrated that there is no reason to believe that any form of gradualism will be more effective than forthwith compliance. If, however, this Court determines upon a gradual decree, we then urge that, as a minimum, certain safeguards must be embodied in that "gradual" decree in order to render it as nearly "effective" as any decree can be which continues the injury being suffered by these appellants as a consequence of the unconstitutional practice here complained of.
Appellants assume that "the great variety of local conditions," to which the Court referred in its May 17th opinion, embraces only such educationally relevant factors as variations in administrative organization, physical facilities, school population and pupil redistribution, and does not include such judicially non-cognizable factors as need for community preparation, Ex Parte Endo, 323 U.S. 283, and threats of racial hostility and violence, Buchanan v. Warley, 245 U.S. 60; Monk v. City of Birmingham, 185 F. 2d 859 (C. A. 5th 1950), cert. denied, 341 U.S. 940.
Further we assume that the word "effective" might be so construed that a plan contemplating desegregation after the lapse of many years could be called an "effective gradual adjustment." For, whenever the change is in fact made, it results in a desegregated system. We do not understand that this type of adjustment would be "effective" within the meaning of Question 5 nor do we undertake to answer it in this framework. Rather, we assume that under any circumstances, the question encompasses due consideration for the constitutional rights of each of these appellants and those presently in the class they represent to be free from enforced racial segregation in public education.
Ordinarily, the problem—the elimination of race as the criterion of admission to public schools—by its very nature would require only general dispositive directions by this Court. Even if the Court decides that the adjustment to nonsegregated systems is to be gradual, no elaborate decree structure is essential at this stage of the proceedings. In neither event would appellants now ask this Court, or any other court, to direct or supervise the details of operation of the local school systems. In either event, we would seek effective provisions assuring their operation—forthwith in the one instance and eventually in the other—in conformity with the Constitution.
These considerations suggest appellants' answers to Question 5. Briefly stated, this Court should not formulate detailed decrees in these cases. It should not appoint a special master to hear evidence with a view to recommending specific terms for such decrees. It should remand these cases to the courts of first instance with directions to frame decrees incorporating certain provisions, hereinafter discussed, that appellants believe are calculated to make them as nearly effective as any gradual desegregation decree can be. The courts of first instance need only follow normal procedures in arriving at such additional provisions for such decrees as circumstances may warrant.
Declaratory provisions This Court should reiterate in the clearest possible language that segregation in public education is a denial of the equal protection of the laws. It should order that the decrees include a recital that constitutional and statutory provisions, and administrative and judicial pronouncements, requiring or sanctioning segregated education afford no basis for the continued maintenance of segregation in public schools.
The important legal consequence of such declaratory provisions would be to obviate the real or imagined dilemma of some school officials who contend that, pending the issuance of injunctions against the continuation of segregated education in their own systems, they are entitled or even obliged to carry out state policies the invalidity of which this Court has already declared. The dilemma is well illustrated by the case of Steiner v. Simmons (Del. Sup. Ct. No. 27, 1954), pending in the Delaware Supreme Court, wherein plaintiffs are suing for readmission to Milford's high school from which, on September 30, 1954, they were expelled because they are Negroes. The Vice Chancellor granted the requested mandatory injunction, finding that plaintiffs had a constitutional right to readmission to school. The Delaware Supreme Court, however, granted a stay pending determination of the appeal on the basis of its preliminary conclusion that "there are serious questions of law touching the existence of that legal right."18
This Court's decision of May 17th put state authorities on notice that thereafter they could not with impunity abrogate the constitutional rights of American children not to be segregated in public schools on the basis of race. This type of recital in the decree should foreclose further misunderstanding, real or pretended, of the principle of law that continuation of racial segregation in public education is in direct violation of the Constitution—state constitutions, statutes, custom or usage requiring such segregation to the contrary notwithstanding.
Time provisions We do not know what considerations may be presented by appellees to warrant gradualism. But whatever these considerations may be, appellants submit that any school plan embracing gradualism must safeguard against the gradual adjustment becoming an interminable one. Therefore, appellants respectfully urge that this Court's opinion and mandate also contain specific directions that any decree to be entered by a district court shall specify (1) that the process of desegregation be commenced immediately, (2) that appellees be required to file periodic reports to the courts of first instance, and (3) an outer time limit by which desegregation must be completed.
Even cases involving gradual decrees have required some amount of immediate compliance by the party under an obligation to remedy his wrongs to the extent physically possible.19 In Wisconsin v. Illinois, 281 U.S. 179, the Court said:
It already has been decided that the defendants are doing a wrong to the complainants, and that they must stop it. They must find out a way at their peril. We have only to consider what is possible if the state of Illinois devotes all its powers to dealing with an exigency to the magnitude of which it seems not yet to have fully awaked. It can base no defenses upon difficulties that it has itself created. If its Constitution stands in the way of prompt action, it must amend it or yield to an authority that is paramount to the state (p. 197).
* * *
1. On and after July 1, 1930,20 the defendants, the state of Illinois and the sanitary district of Chicago are enjoined from diverting any of the waters of the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence system or watershed through the Chicago drainage canal and its auxiliary channels or otherwise in excess of an annual average of 6,500 c.f.s. in addition to domestic pumpage (p. 201).
Considering the normal time consumed before the issuance of the mandate of this Court and the time for submission and preparation of decrees by the courts of first instance, decrees in these cases will not issue until after February, 1955—after the normal mid-term in most school systems. Thus, the school boards would have until September, 1955—sixteen months after the May 17th opinions—to change to a system not based on color distinctions. This time could very well be considered as necessarily incidental to any decision by this Court requiring "forthwith" decrees by the courts of first instance.
Whatever the reasons for gradualism, there is no reason to believe that the process of transition would be more effective if further extended. Certainly, to indulge school authorities until September 1, 1956, to achieve desegregation would be generous in the extreme. Therefore, we submit that if the Court decides to grant further time, then the Court should direct that all decrees specify September, 1956, as the outside date by which desegregation must be accomplished. This would afford more than a year, in excess of the time necessary for administrative changes, to review and modify decisions in the light of lessons learned as these decisions are put into effect.
We submit that the decrees should contain no provision for extension of the fixed limit, whatever date may be fixed. Such a provision would be merely an invitation to procrastinate.21
We further urge this Court to make it plain that the time for completion of the desegregation program will not depend upon the success or failure of interim activities. The decrees in the instant cases should accordingly provide that in the event the school authorities should for any reason fail to comply with the time limitation of the decree, Negro children should then be immediately admitted to the schools to which they apply.22
All states requiring segregated public education were by the May 17th decision of this Court put upon notice that segregated systems of public education are unconstitutional. A decision granting appellees time for gradual adjustment should be so framed that no other state maintaining such a system is lulled into a period of inaction and induced to merely await suit on the assumption that it will then be granted the same period of time after such suit is instituted.
- Brief for Appellants in Nos. 2 (1,) and 3 and for Respondents in No. on Further Reargument (5 ) - Conclusion
- Brief for Appellants in Nos. 2 (1,) and 3 and for Respondents in No. on Further Reargument (5 ) - Developments In These Cases Since The Last Argument
- Other Free Encyclopedias
Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1954 to 1962Brief for Appellants in Nos. 2 (1,) and 3 and for Respondents in No. on Further Reargument (5 ) - In The Supreme Court Of The United States October Term, 1954, Appeals From The United States District Courts For The District Of Kansas, The Eastern District