United States v. Montgomery County Board of Education

PETITIONER: United States
RESPONDENT: Montgomery County Board of Education
LOCATION: Chimel's Home

DOCKET NO.: 798
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1969)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 395 US 225 (1969)
ARGUED: Apr 28, 1969
DECIDED: Jun 02, 1969

Facts of the case

Question

Media for United States v. Montgomery County Board of Education

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 28, 1969 in United States v. Montgomery County Board of Education

Earl Warren:

United States, petitioner, versus Montgomery County Board of Education and Number 997, Arlam Carr, Jr.by Arlam Carr and Johnnie Carr, etcetera et al., petitioners versus Montgomery County Board of Education et al.

Mr. Solicitor General.

Erwin N. Griswold:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This is a school desegregation case.

The question arises here however with respect to faculty desegregation rather than directly with student desegregation.

The issue is a rather narrow but important one.

It arises with respect to the schools of Montgomery County, Alabama including not only those in the City of Montgomery but also those in the surrounding county area.

For the 1967-1968 school year, the defendants operated 52 schools including 32 predominantly white and 20 predominantly Negro schools.

There were approximately 22,500 white students and 17,000 Negro students taught by approximately 815 white teachers and 550 Negro teachers.

This suit began with a complaint which was filed on May 11, 1964 almost five years ago.

At that time as the District Court stated in its opinion and this is at page 524 of the printed record, the Montgomery County Board of Education had taken no steps and had made no plans whatsoever to comply with the law of this land in the area of school desegregation even though ten years had passed when this matter came on for a hearing in 1964, the Montgomery County Board of Education was allowed by this Court to proceed with desegregation gradually for the reason that it was realized that desegregation of the public schools cut across the social fabric of this community and that there would be both administrative and other practical problems for the Board to cope with.

And the Court went on to show the way in which it had helped to cooperate with the Board and moving forward in this and concluded however we have reached the point where we must pass tokenism and the order that was entered in this case on February 24, 1968 is designed to accomplish this purpose.

It was not designed to and was not intended to accomplish and if complied with will not require more than the Supreme Court of the United States and the other appellate courts have held must be accomplished in order to desegregate a public school system.

Well, now what had been done since the suit was filed in 1964, in the year 1964-65, as a result of an order of the Court entered on July 31, 1964, the Board permitted transfers under the Alabama school placement law in four grades, grade 1 and grades 10, 11, and 12, being the senior high school.

This order did not affect the system of initial assignments on the basis of race.

The Board accepted eight of 29 Negroes who applied to transfer to traditionally white schools.

Two students withdrew their applications and the Board denied the remaining 19 applications, so that during the first year, there were eight Negro students in what had previously been white schools.

In 1965-66, grades 1, 2, 7, and 9 through 12 were to be desegregated, 49 Negro students applied to attend predominantly white schools.

The defendants rejected applications from 31 of these and accepted 18 applications.

On appeal to the Court, the Court overturned six of the rejections but accepted the remainder.

This made 24 students who were admitted to the schools.

In 1966-67, approximately 330 Negro students chose to attend white school -- traditionally white schools in Montgomery County, no white students chose to attend traditionally Negro schools.

This was the first year that the school board operated under a freedom of choice plan without initial assignment on the basis of race except in the two grades which were not yet covered by the desegregation plan which were grades 5 and 6.

In the year 1967-68 was the first year that all 12 grades were to be formally desegregated.

Approximately, 550 Negro students attended traditionally white schools.

No white students attended Negro schools and in the year 1968-69, the current year, there are approximately 950 Negro students in 30 traditionally white schools and approximately 16,500 or 94% in all Negro schools.

There are no white students in Negro schools.

So that in summary, as of today, no white student has ever attended a traditionally Negro school in Montgomery County.

The number of Negro students attending traditionally white schools has slowly increased.

Until the present time, it is 950 which seem like a substantial number but it is less than 6% of the Negro students in the Montgomery County school system.