Case: Miller & United States of America v. Board of Education of Gadsden

4:00-cv-12649 | U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama

Filed Date: Nov. 18, 1963

Closed Date: 2005

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This school desegregation case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama on 11/18/1963 and ended in 2005. Brought by private plaintiffs and the United States, it dealt with the public schools in the city of Gadsden, Alabama.Note: Most of the following summary comes from the decision by Judge L. Scott Coogler declaring the case over and the schools "unitary" (a legal declaration that the school district is in compliance with the Equal Protection Clause's mandate …

This school desegregation case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama on 11/18/1963 and ended in 2005. Brought by private plaintiffs and the United States, it dealt with the public schools in the city of Gadsden, Alabama.

Note: Most of the following summary comes from the decision by Judge L. Scott Coogler declaring the case over and the schools "unitary" (a legal declaration that the school district is in compliance with the Equal Protection Clause's mandate of integrated schools) on August 26, 2005, after more than 40 years of court ordered desegregation efforts. There was only one published opinion on Westlaw for the case (detailed below).

In 1963, the plaintiff, Catherine Miller, through her mother, filed this action to enjoin the school segregation in Gadsden, Alabama.

On December 27, 1963, the court found that the Board was violating the Constitution by operating a dual school district; it ordered the Board to desegregate under a "freedom of choice" plan. However, in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in Green v. County School Board of New Kent County, 391 U.S. 430 (1968) disapproving of freedom-of-choice as a desegregation remedy, the district court ordered the Board to revise its plan. On July 25, 1969, the Board did so.

Between 1969 and 1975, the district court approved various amendments and additions to the Board's plan. One of these amendments concerned an issue that ultimately reached the Fifth Circuit. In March of 1972, the plaintiffs filed a motion for further relief, requesting that the Board amend its plan to comply with the Supreme Court's decision in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 402 U.S. 1 (1971). The district court approved the Board's amendments, but on appeal, the Fifth Circuit found the Board's changes inadequate in light of Swann. 482 F.2d 1234 (5th Cir. Aug. 7, 1973).

In April 1975, the Board adopted a plan based on a University of Tennessee Study, which attempted to maximize desegregation without resorting to busing. Instead, it shifted the boundaries within the district and more strictly enforced zone attendance.

On October 23, 1987, the district court entered a show cause order why the case should not be dismissed. However, on October 11, 1988, the court stayed all action on its desegregation cases pending the resolution of several related cases on appeal to the Eleventh Circuit. Finally, in 1995, the parties jointly agreed to a consent decree. The order required the Board to implement a voluntary "majority-to-minority" student transfer policy. It also listed actions pursuant to all areas outlined in Green and Freeman v. Pitts, 503 U.S. 467 (1992). The consent decree lasted four years.

In May 1999, the Board petitioned for -- and was granted -- unitary status by the district court (Judge William Acker). However, the Eleventh Circuit reversed and remanded for further factual finding. Miller v. Board of Education of Gadsden, Alabama, No. 00-1224 (11th Cir. Aug. 8, 2001).

On July 14, 2003, the district court approved another consent decree. (Later modified again in 2004.) The decree provided for the consolidation of the system's high schools and the closing of one elementary school. It concluded that the Board had achieved unitary status in many of the Green areas and discharged its jurisdiction over those areas. It also outlined the Board's remaining obligations. It finally provided that within 30 days of the end of the 2004-05 school year, the Board could file a motion for full unitary status.

On June 10, 2005, the Board again filed a motion for unitary status. The United States, which had earlier intervened in the case, stated that it had no objections -- as did the private plaintiffs, who also reserved the right to reverse their view after a public hearing.

On August 26, 2005, the court (at this point, Judge L. Scott Coogler) declared the school system unitary. In his order, Judge Coogler assessed favorably the Board's progress in the remaining areas of the 2003 decree, including, among other things, the Majority-to-Minority Transfer Policy, Facilities, Student Assignment, and Future Action.

On February 11, 2016, the district court denied the private plaintiff's motion for reconsideration.

Available Opinionss

Miller v. Board of Education of Gadsden, 482 F.2d 1234 (5th Cir. Aug. 7, 1973)

Miller and United States of America v. Board of Education of Gadsden, Alabama, Civ. A. No. CV.63-CO-474 (N.D. Ala. Aug. 26, 2005) (declaring unitary status).

Summary Authors

Greg Margolis (2/23/2017)

People


Judge(s)

Birch, Stanley F. Jr. (Georgia)

Coogler, L. Scott (Alabama)

Farris, Joseph Jerome (Washington)

Wilson, Charles R. (Florida)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Boddie, Elise C. (New York)

Chachkin, Norman J. (New York)

Epperson, Lia B. (District of Columbia)

Evans, Lisa (District of Columbia)

Glassman, Jeremiah (District of Columbia)

Guzman, Javier M (District of Columbia)

Judge(s)

Birch, Stanley F. Jr. (Georgia)

Coogler, L. Scott (Alabama)

Farris, Joseph Jerome (Washington)

Wilson, Charles R. (Florida)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Boddie, Elise C. (New York)

Chachkin, Norman J. (New York)

Epperson, Lia B. (District of Columbia)

Evans, Lisa (District of Columbia)

Glassman, Jeremiah (District of Columbia)

Guzman, Javier M (District of Columbia)

Hu, Margaret (District of Columbia)

Jones, Elaine R. (District of Columbia)

Lee, Bill Lann (District of Columbia)

Maurer, Michael S. (District of Columbia)

Parker, Dennis D. (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Biggs, Gregory Marion (Alabama)

Craven, Larry Eugene (Alabama)

Dean, Juliana Faria Teixeira (Alabama)

Henslee, R. Kent (Alabama)

Knowles, Christie D (Alabama)

Sorrells, Reginald Lee (Alabama)

Strawn, Ralph K. Jr. (Alabama)

Sullivan, Joshua B. (Alabama)

Other Attorney(s)

Dimsey, Dennis J. (District of Columbia)

Hodgkiss, Anita S. (District of Columbia)

Kelly, Sharon D. (Alabama)

King, Troy Robin (Alabama)

Lewis, Herbert J III (Alabama)

Martin, Alice H. (Alabama)

Pryor, William Holcombe Jr. (Alabama)

Stark, Lisa J. (District of Columbia)

Taylor, Lisa M. (District of Columbia)

Trippe, Linda S. (Alabama)

White, Michael Ronald (Alabama)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Boyd, Ralph F. Jr. (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

May 3, 2006 Docket

Brief for the United States as Appellant

Miller, United States of America v. The Board of Education of Gadsden

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

June 30, 2000 Pleading / Motion / Brief
383

Order [Reversing and Remanding Case]

Miller, United States of America v. The Board of Education of Gadsden

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Aug. 8, 2001 Order/Opinion
440

Consent Order

Catherine Ann Miller & United States of American v. Board of Education of Gadsden, Alabama

July 14, 2003 Order/Opinion
462

Motion for Declaration of Unitary Status and Order of Dismissal

Miller, United States of America v. The Board of Education of Gadsden

June 10, 2005 Pleading / Motion / Brief
479

Memorandum of Opinion [Concerning Unitary Status]

Miller, United States of America v. The Board of Education of Gadsden

Aug. 26, 2005 Order/Opinion

Resources

Title Description External URL

Resisting Retreat: the Struggle for Equity in Educational Opportunity in the Post-Brown Era

Lia B. Epperson

The late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, founder of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (“LDF”), and head of the legal team that litigated Brown v. Board of Education, knew well the challenges dese… Oct. 1, 2004 https://lawreview.law.pitt.edu/ojs/index.php/lawreview/article/viewFile/51/51

Docket

Last updated May 12, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: Alabama

Case Type(s):

School Desegregation

Key Dates

Filing Date: Nov. 18, 1963

Closing Date: 2005

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

African-American school children and the United States of America

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

City of Gadsden , School District

Defendant Type(s):

Elementary/Secondary School

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Equal Protection

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order

Declaratory Judgment

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Litigation

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Order Duration: 1963 - 2005

Content of Injunction:

Busing

Discrimination Prohibition

Monitor/Master

Preliminary relief granted

Student assignment

Issues

General:

Racial segregation

Discrimination-basis:

Race discrimination

Race:

Black

Type of Facility:

Government-run