Hills v. Gautreaux

LOCATION: Detroit Police Headquarters

DOCKET NO.: 74-1047
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 425 US 284 (1976)
ARGUED: Jan 20, 1976
DECIDED: Apr 20, 1976

Alexander Polikoff - for respondents
Robert H. Bork - for petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for Hills v. Gautreaux

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 20, 1976 in Hills v. Gautreaux

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - April 20, 1976 in Hills v. Gautreaux

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in 74-1047, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development against Gautreaux will be announced by Mr. Justice Stewart.

Potter Stewart:

This case is here by way of a writ of certiorari granted to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, known as HUD or sometimes as HUD, has been judicially found to have violated the Fifth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in connection with the selection of sites for public housing in the City of Chicago.

The issue now before us is whether the remedial order of the Federal Trial Court may extend beyond Chicago’s territorial boundaries.

The District Court confined the operation of its decree to the Chicago city limits, but the Court of Appeals vacated that order and remanded the case, so that the District Court could consider a broader decree covering the entire metropolitan area.

It is the position of the petitioner, HUD, that the Court of Appeals was in error in view of this Court’s decision two terms ago in the case of Milliken against Bradley, which held that a judicial decree to remedy an unconstitutionally segregated school system in the City of Detroit must be confined to the territorial boundaries of that school district.

But there is nothing in the Milliken decision to suggest a per se rule that federal courts lack authority to order a person found to have violated the constitution to undertake remedial efforts beyond the municipal boundaries of the city where the violation occurred.

The proposed remedy in the Milliken case was held to be impermissible because of the limits on federal judicial power to interfere with the operation of political entities that were not implicated with unconstitutional conduct.

In this case, by contrast, a judicial order directing relief beyond the boundary lines of Chicago will not necessarily entail coercion of uninvolved governmental units.

Our prior decisions counsel that in the event of a constitutional violation, all reasonable methods must be available to formulate an effective remedy, and that every effort should be made by a federal court to employ those methods to achieve the greatest possible degree of relief.

In this case it is entirely appropriate and wholly consistent with the Milliken decision to order HUD to attempt to create housing alternatives for the respondents in the Chicago suburbs.

The wrong committed by HUD confined the respondents to segregated public housing.

The relevant geographic area, for purposes of the respondents’ housing options, is the Chicago are housing market, not the Chicago city limits.

To foreclose such relief, solely on the ground that HUD’s constitutional and statutory violations, took place within the city limits of Chicago, would transform the Milliken decision into an arbitrary and mechanical shield for those found to have engaged in unconstitutional conduct.

For the reasons I have summarized which are discussed in some detail in the Court’s written opinion, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed.

Mr. Justice Marshall has filed a concurring statement, which Mr. Justice Brennan and Mr. Justice White have joined, and Mr. Justice Stevens took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Stewart.