Papasan v. Allain

PETITIONER: Papasan
RESPONDENT: Allain
LOCATION: Circuit Court of Jefferson County

DOCKET NO.: 85-499
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 478 US 265 (1986)
ARGUED: Apr 22, 1986
DECIDED: Jul 07, 1986

ADVOCATES:
Richard Lloyd Arnold - on behalf of the respondents
T. H. Freeland, III - on behalf of the petitioners

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Papasan v. Allain

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 22, 1986 in Papasan v. Allain

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in Papasan against Mississippi.

Mr. Freeland, I think you may proceed whenever you are ready.

T. H. Freeland, III:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court, there is a line drawn across the State of Mississippi, an arbitrary line that divides the school children of that state into two classes.

The school children in the southern 59 counties of Mississippi receive the entire income from the federally created school lands trust in our state, while the school children in the Chickasaw Cession, the 23 counties that we represent, receive not a nickel of this trust income, but instead a pittance in the form of an annual appropriation which the Mississippi legislature may or may not make each year.

Byron R. White:

Could I ask you right now, do you claim that it is contrary to federal law or the Constitution for the state to allow this school land money to be allocated to the counties in which the land is?

Do you think they must administer for the state as a whole and distribute it equally?

T. H. Freeland, III:

I think it is contrary to federal law, Justice White, for them to do as they are doing.

In other words--

Byron R. White:

Well, that doesn't answer my question.

T. H. Freeland, III:

--I think it is contrary... yes, to answer your question in a word.

Byron R. White:

Good.

So you think they should take the total trust income from trust lands and divide it among the counties in accordance with the number of students or some other neutral standard?

T. H. Freeland, III:

I think that they could do that as part of the relief that we seek, yes.

Byron R. White:

I know, but I thought you said that it would be contrary to federal law to let the counties in which the land is located have all the money generated for that land.

T. H. Freeland, III:

Not precisely.

What I said was that it is contrary to federal law to allow all of the trust income to go to 59 counties, and at the same time none of it to go to the 23 that we represent.

Byron R. White:

Well, suppose there wasn't this Cherokee land involved at all, and every county in the state had that section of land or whatever it was, those sections of land, but that those lands in the different counties produced different income, different levels of income, and some counties from the school land would be getting X dollars per child, and other counties would be getting one-tenth that per child.

Now, would that be permissible?

T. H. Freeland, III:

Well, in the first place--

Byron R. White:

Would it be, or not?

T. H. Freeland, III:

--Yes, yes, indeed, it would be, and that is the situation that does in fact exist in lots of state, where the state has not done--

Byron R. White:

So you do not attack allocating the income to the counties in which the land is located.

T. H. Freeland, III:

--As a matter of fact, the language of the trust says that that is what is to be... in other words, the land is to be maintained for the benefit of the township in which the land is located, but we have gone beyond that in Mississippi.

Byron R. White:

I understand.

T. H. Freeland, III:

That is my point.

Lewis F. Powell, Jr.:

Mr. Freeland, I am not sure I understand the facts.

My understanding was that the counties you represent were owned by an Indian tribe, and when the United States government took that land over and sold it, they gave the proceeds to the State of Mississippi.

The state then invested the proceeds in bonds of a railroad that went broken during the War Between the States.

Is that correct?

T. H. Freeland, III:

No, Justice Powell, that is--