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BUCHANAN ET AL. v. EVANS ET AL.

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES


decided: September 1, 1978.

BUCHANAN ET AL
v.
EVANS ET AL.

ON APPLICATION FOR STAY.

Author: Brennan

[ 439 U.S. Page 1360]

MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN, Circuit Justice.

The Delaware State Board of Education and eight intervening defendant suburban school districts*fn1 request that I stay execution of the judgment and mandate of the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in this case pending consideration by this Court of their petition for certiorari. The judgment affirmed an order of the District Court for the District of Delaware prescribing a school desegregation plan involving

[ 439 U.S. Page 1361]

     the city of Wilmington and 11 surrounding suburban school districts.*fn2

 In deciding whether to grant a stay pending disposition of a petition for certiorari, I must consider two factors.

"First, 'a Circuit Justice should "balance the equities" . . . and determine on which side the risk of irreparable injury weighs most heavily.' Holtzman v. Schlesinger, 414 U.S. 1304, 1308-1309 (1973) (MARSHALL, J., in chambers). Second, assuming a balance of equities in favor of the applicant, the Circuit Justice must also determine whether 'it is likely that four Members of this Court would vote to grant a writ of certiorari.' Id., at 1310. The burden of persuasion as to both of these issues rests on the applicant . . . ." Beame v. Friends of the Earth, 434 U.S. 1310, 1312 (1977) (MARSHALL, J., in chambers).

That burden is "particularly heavy," ibid., when, as here, a stay has been denied both by the District Court and unanimously by the Court of Appeals sitting en banc.

The thrust of applicants' position is that the desegregation plan ordered by the District Court and approved by the Court of Appeals is administratively and financially onerous, and that it is inconsistent with the precepts enunciated in Dayton Board of Education v. Brinkman, 433 U.S. 406 (1977).*fn3

[ 439 U.S. Page 1362]

     that time . . . Wilmington and suburban districts were not meaningfully 'separate and autonomous'" because "de jure segregation in New Castle County was a cooperative venture involving both city and suburbs." 393 F.Supp. 428, 437 (1975). So far from finding only isolated examples of unconstitutional action, the District Court in this case concluded "that segregated schooling in Wilmington has never been eliminated and that there still exists a dual school system." 379 F.Supp. 1218, 1223 (1974). The District Court found that this dual school system has been perpetuated through constitutional violations of an interdistrict nature,*fn5 necessitating for their rectification an interdistrict remedy. See 393 F.Supp. 428 (1975). See also 416 F.Supp. 328, 338-341 (1976). The District Court's finding of these interdistrict violations was summarily affirmed by this Court, 423 U.S. 963 (1975), and it thus constitutes the law of the case for purposes of this stay application. Unlike the situation in Dayton, therefore, the record before the Court of Appeals in the instant case was replete with findings justifying, if not requiring, the extensive interdistrict remedy ordered by the District Court.

Applicants argue, however, that the order of the District Court violates the principles of Dayton because no findings were made as to "incremental segregative effect." But even assuming that such an analysis were appropriate when, as here, there is an explicit finding that a de jure school system

[ 439 U.S. Page 1364]

     has never been dismantled,*fn6 the remedy of the District Court was consciously fashioned to implement the familiar rule of Swann and Gautreaux that equitable relief should be tailored to fit the violation. "Our duty," stated the District Court in 1976, "is to order a remedy which will place the victims of the violation in substantially the position which they would have occupied had the violation not occurred." 416 F.Supp., at 341. And, as the District Court most recently stated:

"[The] firmly established constitutional violations in this case are the perpetuation of a dual school system and the vestige effects of pervasive de jure inter-district segregation. Evans v. Buchanan, 416 F.Supp. at 343; 393 F.Supp. at 432-438, 445, 447. Dayton reaffirms that '[once] a constitutional violation is found, a federal court is required to tailor "the scope of the remedy" to fit "the nature and extent of the constitutional violation."' [433 U.S. at 420]; see Milliken [v. Bradley ], 418 U.S. [717,] 744; Swann, 402 U.S. at 16. . . . Eradication of the constitutional violation to the scope and extent enumerated by the three-judge court is all that any of the plans and concepts submitted purport to accomplish, and that is all the concept endorsed by the Court does accomplish." 447 F.Supp. 982, 1011 (1978) (footnote omitted).[*fn7]

[ 439 U.S. Page 1365]

     The Court of Appeals accepted the principles of this analysis, and approved their application by the District Court. See Application for Stay, Exhibit B, p. 22; 555 F.2d 373, 379-380 (CA3 1977). In these circumstances, I find no violation of the principles of Dayton sufficient to justify the conclusion that four Justices of this court would vote to grant certiorari.

Applicants strenuously urge that irreparable financial and administrative difficulties attend upon the District Court's order. But both the District Court and the Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, have rejected this contention and concluded that, balancing the equities of this protracted litigation, applicants are not entitled to a stay. The judgments of these Courts are entitled to great deference. See Board of Education of New Rochelle v. Taylor, 82 S. Ct. 10, 11 (1961) (BRENNAN, J., in chambers). "It is clear that the . . . Court of Appeals gave full consideration to a similar motion and with a much fuller knowledge than we can have, denied it. As we have said, we require very cogent reasons before we will disregard the deliberate action of that court in such a matter." Magnum Import Co. v. Coty, 262 U.S. 159, 164 (1923).

The "devastating, often irreparable, injury to those children who experience segregation and isolation was noted [24] years ago in Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954)." Jefferson Parish School Board v. Dandridge, 404 U.S. 1219, 1220 (1971) (MARSHALL, J., in chambers). This case has been in continuous litigation for the past 21 years. As my Brother MARSHALL stated seven years ago when asked to stay a school desegregation order:

"Whatever progress toward desegregation has been made

[ 439 U.S. Page 1366]

     apparently, and unfortunately, derives only from judicial action initiated by those persons situated as perpetual plaintiffs below. The rights of children to equal educational opportunities are not to be denied, even for a brief time, simply because a school board situates itself so as to make desegregation difficult." Ibid.

In such circumstances, I cannot conclude that the balance of equities lies in favor of applicants. The application for a stay is accordingly denied.


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