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Lee v. Washington

The Supreme Court Rules

On 11 March 1967, the Supreme Court issued its decision. A unanimous majority agreed to affirm the judgement of the district court with regard both to the unconstitutionality of the segregation statute and the advisability of the district court's desegregation schedule. Also, the Court held that prisoners confined in Alabama jails did in fact have standing to bring a class action. As the majority opinion stated: "The State's contentions that Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which relates to class actions, was violated in this case and that the challenged statutes are not unconstitutional are without merit."

On the large issue at hand, the Court held that statutes requiring segregation in prisons and jails are a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Orders directing desegregation regardless of the fact that they failed to make an allowance for the necessities of prison security and discipline were nonetheless constitutional. "The . . . contention of the State is that the specific orders directing desegregation of prisons and jails make no allowance for the necessities of prison security and discipline," the opinion continued. "But we do not so read the `Order, Judgment and Decree' of the District Court, which when read as a whole we find unexceptionable."

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1963 to 1972Lee v. Washington - The Facts Of The Case, The Supreme Court Rules, Concurring Opinion, Prisoner Lawsuits, Further Readings