Pasadena City Bd. of Educ. v. Spangler

PETITIONER:Pasadena City Bd. of Educ.
LOCATION:North Carolina State Capitol

DOCKET NO.: 75-164
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 427 US 424 (1976)
ARGUED: Apr 27, 1976 / Apr 28, 1976
DECIDED: Jun 28, 1976

Fred Okrand –
Phil Caldwell Neal –
Philip C. Neal
Robert H. Bork – for respondent United States

Facts of the case


Media for Pasadena City Bd. of Educ. v. Spangler

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – April 28, 1976 (Part 2) in Pasadena City Bd. of Educ. v. Spangler
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – April 27, 1976 (Part 1) in Pasadena City Bd. of Educ. v. Spangler

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – June 28, 1976 in Pasadena City Bd. of Educ. v. Spangler

Warren E. Burger:

The Judgments and opinions of the Court in two cases, 75-164 Pasadena City Board of Education against Spangler and two consolidated cases, 75-251 and 283, Fitzpatrick against Bitzer and Bitzer against Mathews will be announced by Mr. Justice Rehnquist.

William H. Rehnquist:

The number 75-164, Pasadena City Board of Education versus Spangler, the District Court in 1970 in the Central District of California, as a result of an Action originally brought by High School students and their parents, found that the unified School District of Pasadena was unconstitutionally segregated.

The Court thereupon ordered the defendant school district officials to prepare and submit a plan for the de-segregation of these public schools.

One aspect of the required plan was the re-drawing of the attendance zones for the Pasadena Schools, a requirement which the District Court said, had to include provisions ensuring that there would be no majority of any minority racial group attending any Pasadena School.

The school officials prepared the requested plan which was submitted to and approved by the District Court.

The plan was put into operation, beginning with the 1970-71 academic year and the Pasadena School Officials were under its terms for the next four years.

In 1974, however, these officials sought relief from further compliance with the 1970 decree.

They argued that they had met their application of de-segregating the Pasadena Public Schools and should be released from the further supervision of the Federal Court or in the alternative that they were at least entitled to revision of some aspects of the plan.

Central to this alternative contention was the schools official’s argument that deviation from the District Court’s formula had resulted from the demographic changes in the Pasadena School District, the moving in and about Pasadena of population, and the District Court could not, therefore, require annual shifting of boundaries to confirm to it’s no majority of any minority guideline.

The District Court rejected these requests for relief and ordered the plan continued in full effect.

The court also made clear it’s intention to require annual re-drawing of the School District’s attended zones so there would never be a majority of any minority in a Pasadena School.

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the District Court’s decision, although in the course of doing it so, it cast some doubt upon the correctness of some of the statements made by the District Court.

For reasons more fully stated in an opinion filed with a clerk this morning, we conclude that the District Court exceeded it’s authority in attempting to require the School District to re-draw attendance zones each year so as to ensure that the racial balance in the Public Schools would never violate it’s no majority of any minority directive.

The school officials had submitted a racially neutral attendance zone scheme to the District Court in 1970.

The court approved the plan and implemented it.

Having done so, we think it’s authority to order further alterations of the attendance patterns in this case was at an end unless subsequent disparities in the actual attendance of those schools could be shown to be the result of segregated actions chargeable to the defendant school officials.

There was no such showing in this case.

Accordingly, we conclude that the lower courts erred in determining that the school officials could be required to rearrange their attendance zones each year in response to normal demographic changes in the Pasadena area.

We, therefore, vacate the Judgment of Court of Appeals and remand the case to that court for further proceedings.

Mr. Justice Marshall has filed a dissenting opinion in which Mr. Justice Brennan joins.

Mr. Justice Stevens took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.