Mayor of Philadelphia v. Educational Equality League

PETITIONER:Mayor of Philadelphia
RESPONDENT:Educational Equality League
LOCATION:U.S. District Court

DOCKET NO.: 72-1264
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

CITATION: 415 US 605 (1974)
ARGUED: Dec 10, 1973
DECIDED: Mar 25, 1974

Edwin D. Wolf – for respondents
John Mattioni – for petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for Mayor of Philadelphia v. Educational Equality League

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – December 10, 1973 in Mayor of Philadelphia v. Educational Equality League

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – March 25, 1974 in Mayor of Philadelphia v. Educational Equality League

Lewis F. Powell, Jr.:

In number 72-1264, Mayor of Philadelphia against Education Equality League, we have a case that comes to us on certiorari from the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

In Philadelphia under a complicated provision of the City Charter, the Mayor appoints a school board.

The charter provides, however, for a nominating panel which is required to submit to the Mayor, three nominees for every they can see on the school board.

The Mayor must make appointment to the board from among those nominees.

The nominating panel consists of 13 members, all appointed by the Mayor.

Four may be appointed from the citizen they oblige; each of the remaining members must be the highest ranking officer of designated categories of citywide organizations.

The respondents have said the Mayor violated the Fourteenth Amendment by discriminating against Negros in his appointment to the 1971 nominating panel.

In that year, the panel was composed of 11 whites and 2 Negros.

The school board itself, as to which no discrimination is alleged, was then composed of seven whites and two Negros.

And when this case was argued there were six whites and three Negros on the school board.

Some 34% of the population of Philadelphia and 60% of the students in the public schools were Negros.

Following a hearing, the District Court found no discrimination and dismissed the suit.

The Court of Appeals, however, reversed.

We hold, based upon an examination of the record, that the findings and conclusions of the District Court were correct.

We conclude that the factors, relied upon by the Court of Appeals, were insufficient to support a conclusion of discrimination, especially with respect to the discretionary appointment by an elected official of a small body, such as a school board or a nominating panel.

The evidence in this case is too fragmentary and speculative to support such a serious triage.

Accordingly, we reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

Mr. Justice White has filed a dissenting opinion in which Justices Brennan and Marshall fully concurred and in part of which Mr. Justice Douglas concurred.