United States v. Fordice, 505 U.S. 717 (1992)

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certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the fifth circuit

No. 90-1205. Argued November 13, 1991—Decided June 26, 1992*

Despite this Court's decisions in Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U. S.

483 (Brown I), and Brown v. Board of Education, 349 U. S. 294 (Brown II), Mississippi continued its policy of de jure segregation in its public university system, maintaining five almost completely white and three almost exclusively black universities. Private petitioners initiated this lawsuit in 1975, and the United States intervened, charging that state officials had failed to satisfy their obligation under, inter alia, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to dismantle the dual system. In an attempt to reach a consensual resolution through voluntary dismantlement, the State Board of Trustees, in 1981, issued "Mission Statements" classifying the three flagship white institutions during the de jure period as "comprehensive" universities having the most varied programs and offering doctoral degrees, redesignating one of the black colleges as an "urban" university with limited research and degree functions geared toward its urban setting, and characterizing the rest of the colleges as "regional" institutions which functioned primarily in an undergraduate role. When, by the mid-1980's, the student bodies at the white universities were still predominantly white, and the racial composition at the black institutions remained largely black, the suit proceeded to trial. After voluminous evidence was presented on a full range of educational issues, the District Court entered extensive findings of fact on, among other things, admissions requirements, institutional classification and missions assignments, duplication of programs, and funding. Its conclusions of law included rulings that, based on its interpretation of Baze-more v. Friday, 478 U. S. 385, and other cases, the affirmative duty to desegregate in the higher education context does not contemplate either restricting student choice or the achievement of any degree of racial balance; that current state policies and practices should be examined to ensure that they are racially neutral, developed and implemented in good faith, and do not substantially contribute to the racial identifiability

*Together with No. 90-6588, Ayers et al. v. Fordice, Governor of Mississippi, et al., also on certiorari to the same court.


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