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O'Connor v. Donaldson

Significance, Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, Further Readings


Kenneth Donaldson


Dr. J. B. O'Connor

Petitioner's Claim

That O'Connor, as the representative of the Florida State Hospital at Chattahoochee, had violated Donaldson's constitutional rights by keeping him in custody against his will for nearly 15 years for his supposed mental illness.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Raymond W. Gearney

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Bruce J. Ennis, Jr.

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Jr., Warren E. Burger, William O. Douglas, Thurgood Marshall, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., William H. Rehnquist, Potter Stewart (writing for the Court), Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting



Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

26 June 1975


In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled that Donaldson possessed certain constitutional rights, and that he could gather damages from individuals who had taken away his rights.

Related Cases

  • Minnesota ex rel Pearson v. Probate Court, 309 U.S. 270 (1940).
  • Shelton v. Tucker, 364 U.S. 479 (1960).
  • In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967).
  • Cohen v. Caligornia, 403 U.S. 15 (1971).
  • McKeiver v. Pennsylvania, 403 U.S. 528 (1971).


Department of Education. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, http://www.civilrights.com/idea.html, www.edweek.org/context/glossary/idea.htm.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980