Gilmore v. City of Montgomery

RESPONDENT:City of Montgomery
LOCATION:Detroit Public Schools

DOCKET NO.: 72-1517
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 417 US 556 (1974)
ARGUED: Jan 15, 1974 / Jan 16, 1974
DECIDED: Jun 17, 1974

Joseph J. Levin, Jr. – for petitioners
Joseph D. Phelps – for respondents

Facts of the case


Media for Gilmore v. City of Montgomery

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – January 15, 1974 in Gilmore v. City of Montgomery
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – January 16, 1974 in Gilmore v. City of Montgomery

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – June 17, 1974 in Gilmore v. City of Montgomery

Harry A. Blackmun:

Number 72-1517 is Gilmore against the City Of Montgomery.

This case comes to us from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

It is but another chapter in prolong litigation.

The lawsuit began in 1958 when the petitioners who are Negro citizens of Montgomery, sued to desegregate the city’s public parks.

They were successful and the District Court ordered the parks desegregated.

Thereafter, however, segregated recreational programs were developed by the city in cooperation with the local YMCA and recreational facilities in Negro neighborhoods were not maintained equally with others.

The petitioners accordingly in 1970 moved to reopen the litigation based on the facts developed in a separate action, involving the YMCA.

Those claims were settled by agreement, but then, however in 1971, the petitioners moved for further relief.

They complained that the city was permitting segregated schools and segregated private groups and clubs to use city parks and recreational facilities.

The District Court enjoined the city from permitting the use of Municipal Recreational facilities by any racially segregated private school or group, or by any non-school group or club that had a discriminatory admissions policy.

On appeal, the Fifth Circuit sustained the injunction with respect to what it called exclusive use by segregated schools, but reversed insofar as the injunction applied to nonexclusive use by segregated schools and to any use by non-school groups.

We affirm in part and reverse in part and remand the case for further proceedings.

We hold that the city was properly enjoined from permitting exclusive access to its recreational facilities by segregated private schools and by groups affiliated with such schools.

We reason as to this that the city’s policies contravene an outstanding school desegregation court order intended to perpetuate a dual school system.

The majority of the Court, however, feel that on this record, it is not possible to determine whether nonexclusive use by private school groups in common with others and by non-school groups involve the city so directly in the actions of those users as to warrant court intervention on constitutional grounds.

I am authorized to say that Mr. Justice Brennan has filed a separate concurring opinion.

Mr. Justice White has filed a separate concurring opinion in which Mr. Justice Douglas joins and Mr. Justice Marshall has filed a separate opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.