Wright v. Council of City of Emporia

PETITIONER: Wright
RESPONDENT: Council of City of Emporia
LOCATION: Bay Marchand Area

DOCKET NO.: 70-188
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

CITATION: 407 US 451 (1972)
ARGUED: Mar 01, 1972
DECIDED: Jun 22, 1972

ADVOCATES:
D. Dortch Warriner -
Samuel W. Tucker -

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Wright v. Council of City of Emporia

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 01, 1972 in Wright v. Council of City of Emporia

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear arguments next in Number 70-188, Wright against the City of Emporia.

Mr. Tucker, you may proceed.

Samuel W. Tucker:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This case was commenced on March 15, 1965 before the City of Emporia came into being.

The litigation was litigation against the County School Board of Greensville County to require desegregation of public schools which it operated has a biracial school -- school system for the entire county including what then was the Town of Emporia.

At that time, all of the county's white children attended the schools located in Emporia.

There were two such schools, one, the Emporia Elementary School, one, the Greensville County High School.

Both of which located in the Town of Emporia was at that time, and they were the only schools which white children in the county attended.

The -- in other words, children who live in the county cross the line to attend -- white children who live in the county cross the line to attend schools in the city.

Some of the Negro children, the elementary children who live in the city cross the lines to attend schools at the county, all of the Negro high school children who live in the city cross the line to attend schools at the county.

That's one school system.

As far as the school system is concern, there were no political lines.

Potter Stewart:

The -- there was a Negro school in the city also.

Samuel W. Tucker:

There was one Negro school in the city which had been the old high school or the training school doubling this high school and other school and there-- there's a -- as far as the high school is concerned, it was replaced by new school.

In 1953, I believe, it was built about a mile north of the town.

Potter Stewart:

What part of Virginia is this county (Voice Overlap) --

Samuel W. Tucker:

Greensville County is on this North Carolina line.

It's just about 10 to 20 miles of -- north Haley Place County which was just being spoken about.

Harry A. Blackmun:

So, it's fairly close to Scotland Neck?

Samuel W. Tucker:

It's quite close to Scotland Neck, yes.

After four years of litigation, we prevailed upon the District Court to require a plan that would prompt us realistically to -- to desegregate the schools.

The essence of the plan was one that was proposed by the plaintiffs and that was to assign certain grades to certain schools and assign children other who lived in the city or in the county to the grade served in that particular school.

Specifically of interest here, all the children in grades one, two and three were assigned to the Emporia Elementary School in Emporia, that then the traditional white elementary school.And all the children in grades 10, 11 and 12 were assigned to the Greensville County High School in Emporia that hadn't been the -- the traditional white school.

And all of the children in those intermediate grades were assigned to the previously all-black schools in accordance to the grades that those schools had served.

Now, immediately after the District Court gave approval to this plan, the City of Emporia decided it would take over the two traditionally white schools and operate them as a separate school system.

And the Court of Appeals has held, reversing the District Court that this should have been permitted.

And if --

Potter Stewart:

And if you said it -- say it -- it was a town and it --

Samuel W. Tucker:

Well --

Potter Stewart:

-- became a city --