Adams v. Richardson 480 F.2d 1159 (D.C. Cir. 1973)

SCOTUS Decisions & Politics

Oct 18 2023 • 17 mins

Adams v. Richardson 480 F.2d 1159 (D.C. Cir. 1973)

This education desegregation lawsuit against the federal government was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in 1970 by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) on behalf of plaintiffs from across the country. Plaintiffs were black college students, citizens, and taxpayers from ten states that had been identified by the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) for “operating segregated systems of higher education in violation of Title VI” of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 351 F. Supp. 636, 637–38 (D.D.C. 1972). Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief against the Secretary of HEW and the Director of HEW’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) because they claimed HEW and OCR were not doing their part to administer Title VI.

The first district court opinion was issued on November 16, 1972. Judge John H. Pratt found that the ten states identified by HEW— Mississippi, Louisiana, Virginia, Maryland, Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, and Pennsylvania—either completely ignored HEW’s request for a higher education desegregation plan or submitted deficient desegregation plans to HEW. HEW failed to enforce Title VI against these states and it continued to give federal funding to these states to support their public schools at every level: elementary, secondary, and post-secondary. According to Title VI, HEW was supposed to deny/terminate federal financial assistance to states that were not in compliance with the law or take any other legal measures to enforce state compliance with Title VI. Judge Pratt ordered that HEW officials could no longer use their limited discretion to enforce Title VI; rather, they were ordered to use the means available in Title VI to achieve compliance on a case-by-case basis.

https://clearinghouse.net/case/11091/


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