McNeese v. Board of Ed. for Community Unit School Dist. 187

PETITIONER: Louis McNeese, Jr., a minor, by Mabel McNeese, his mother and next friend et al.
RESPONDENT: Board of Education for Community Unit School Dist. 187, Cahoka, IL et al.
LOCATION: School District 187

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 373 US 668 (1963)
ARGUED: Apr 23, 1963
DECIDED: Jun 03, 1963

Howard Boman - For the Respondent
Raymond E. Harth - For the Petitioner
Robert H. Reiter - For the Respondent

Facts of the case

African American students in District 187 sued the school under the Civil Rights Act, alleging violations of the Fourteenth Amendment. While the school district contained an almost identical number of Caucasian and African American students, the petitioners alleged that the two races were taught in separate parts of the building and were compelled to use separate entrances and exits. The district court dismissed the complaint for failure exhaust administrative the remedies available under an Illinois law prohibiting segregation public schools. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed.


Did the district court err in dismissing the case because petitioners did not exhaust state remedies before filing suit?

Media for McNeese v. Board of Ed. for Community Unit School Dist. 187

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 23, 1963 in McNeese v. Board of Ed. for Community Unit School Dist. 187

Earl Warren:

Number 480, Louis McNeese, Jr., a Minor by Mabel McNeese, His Mother and Next Friend, et al., Petitioners, versus Board of Education for Community Unit School District 187.

Mr. Harth.

Raymond E. Harth:

Mr. Chief Justice Warren and may it please the Court.

This is a school segregation case brought under the Civil Rights Act Section 1983, pursuant to the judicial code Title 28 Section 1343 subparagraph 3.

The allegation of the complaint in substance is that the plaintiff-children had been compelled to attend racially segregated public schools and that this violates their rights to due process of law and to equal protection of the law as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.

The plaintiffs are Negro elementary school children who reside in Centreville, Illinois.

Now, Centreville is a city just outside of East St. Louis in Southern Illinois.

And they attend the Chenot Elementary School which is one of several elementary schools operated by the defendants and the Community Unit School District Number 187.

It is at this school that the defendants maintain separate classes for white and Negro students in the same school building, and it is also in this school that Negro children are required to use separate entrances to and exits from the school building from those used by the white children.

Now, the Chenot School is relatively new.

It was opened in the year 1957 at the opening of the school year.

Now, the complaint alleges that this school was planned and built and its attendance area boundaries were intentionally drawn by the defendants so as to make it an all-Negro school in the students enrolled.

Now, the presence of the white children in the school at the present time was something that happened subsequent to that period.

In fact, and as alleged in the complaint, all children of elementary-school-age who reside within the Chenot attendance area are Negroes.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Where is Chenot?

Raymond E. Harth:

The Chenot School is in Centreville.

It's just outside --

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

I mean, where is the community in rel -- in the state?

Raymond E. Harth:

It's in Southern Illinois, just outside this City of East St. Louis.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

That's not (Inaudible)

Raymond E. Harth:


Potter Stewart:

That's not what I thought because Illinois goes much further south.

Raymond E. Harth:

It goes much further south.

Potter Stewart:

I thought it was called --

Raymond E. Harth:

-- this is not in the very southern part.

Potter Stewart:

Little Egypt or whatever it's called.

Raymond E. Harth:

That's correct.

Potter Stewart:

But this is not in that area?

Raymond E. Harth:


Potter Stewart:

It's in the St. Louis Area.