Goss v. Board of Education of Knoxville, Tennessee

PETITIONER: Goss
RESPONDENT: Board of Education of Knoxville, Tennessee
LOCATION: Bay County Circuit Court

DOCKET NO.: 217
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 373 US 683 (1963)
ARGUED: Mar 20, 1963 / Mar 21, 1963
DECIDED: Jun 03, 1963

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Goss v. Board of Education of Knoxville, Tennessee

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 21, 1963 in Goss v. Board of Education of Knoxville, Tennessee

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 20, 1963 in Goss v. Board of Education of Knoxville, Tennessee

Earl Warren:

Number 217, Josephine Goss, et al., Petitioners, versus The Board of Education of the City of Knoxville, Tennessee, et al.

Mr. Greenberg.

Jack Greenberg:

May it please the Court.

These are two school segregation cases, consolidated for argument before this Court arising in Knoxville and Davidson County, Tennessee.

Davidson County is the suburban county surrounding the City of Nashville.

Both of these cases were tried and decided separately in the District Court and in the Court of Appeals, but they both present common questions of law and fact and are consolidated here for argument.

The Knoxville case was filed on December 1959 and involved at the outset a grade a year, 12-year desegregation plan approved by the District Court.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a 12-year plan was not fast enough and reversed on this aspect of the case.

Their characterization of the Board's plan appears on page 161 of the record in their opinion.

And I'd like to quote a sentence briefly.

The evidence does not indicate that the Board is confronted with the type of administrative problems contemplated by the Supreme Court in the Second Brown decision.

And further down on that page, the position of the Board that it would continue to operate under these unenforceable laws until compelled by law to do otherwise does not commend itself to the court for the acceptance of a plan that provides for a minimum degree of desegregation.

So I as stated, it disapproved the 12-year aspect of the plan but it -- and it also in a separate opinion later decided, disapproved the plan of the Board with regard to vocational school.

And neither of those two aspects of the case are involved in this petition.

However, the Court did uphold a racial transfer plan which was part of this desegregation plan and I will describe this plan in a moment because it is identical to the racial transfer plan that appears in the Davidson County case.

The Davidson County case was filed in September 1960 and it too involved a grade a year plan.

The District Court held that this was not fast enough under the standards set down by this Court in the Second Brown decision.

And it required the respondents to desegregate four grades in January of 1961 and file by September of 1961.

In other words, to catch up with the City of Nashville with which it was contiguous.

The District Court refused to allow the named individual plaintiffs not covered by the grades of the plan to receive a nonsegregated education.

Now, the racial transfer aspect and the right of the individual plaintiffs both were taken to the Court of Appeals.

The Court of Appeals upheld the racial transfer aspect and also upheld the refusal to allow the individual petitioners to obtain a desegregated education and grades other than those covered by the plan.

John M. Harlan II:

The (Inaudible) question isn't here?

Jack Greenberg:

No, I was just about to say.

We brought the racial transfer aspect of both cases and the right of the individual plaintiffs here.

And this Court granted certiorari only with regard to the common question of both cases and that is the racial transfer aspect of the plan.

Both cases involved racial transfer provisions which are almost entirely identical in language.

First -- and they both appear on page 4 of our brief.

First, both school systems adopted a general transfer provision such as you might find in any school system in such as they had previously had.

That appears on page 4 of the brief in the footnote saying that transfers would be allowed when good cause therefore is shown in Knoxville and Davidson County also using the words when good cause therefore is shown.