Case: Carr v. Montgomery County Board of Education

2:64-02072 | U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama

Filed Date: June 15, 1962

Closed Date: 1993

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This desegregation case ran from 1964 to 1993, governing the schools in Montgomery County, Alabama, a school district that includes both the City of Montgomery and the surrounding county. On 6/15/1962, the plaintiffs, several school children, brought this action in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama against the Montgomery County Board of Education, asking the court to enjoin the Board's practice of operating a dual school district. They were represented by, among others,…

This desegregation case ran from 1964 to 1993, governing the schools in Montgomery County, Alabama, a school district that includes both the City of Montgomery and the surrounding county.

On 6/15/1962, the plaintiffs, several school children, brought this action in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama against the Montgomery County Board of Education, asking the court to enjoin the Board's practice of operating a dual school district. They were represented by, among others, Jack Greenberg. The court (Judge Frank Johnson) made the United States amicus curiae. On July 31, 1964, Judge Johnson granted the plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction, finding that the Board was unconstitutionally operating a segregated school district. Judge Johnson ordered the Board to take necessary steps to desegregate, starting with first, tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades, through the Alabama School Placement Law (a "freedom of choice" law). Carr v. Montgomery County Board of Education, 232 F.Supp. 705 (M.D. Ala. 1964).

On March 22, 1966, Judge Johnson entered a new order in the case, requiring the Board to desegregate grades 1-4 and 7-12 starting with the 1966 school term and grades 5 and 6, starting with the 1967 school term, all pursuant to the freedom of choice plan. Judge Johnson's order also included other measures relating to faculty hiring and retention, facilities and programs. 253 F.Supp. 306 (M.D. Ala. 1966).

On February 24, 1968, Judge Johnson issued another opinion in the case. The United States and the plaintiffs had filed two motions requesting that the defendants take further steps to desegregate the school system relating to, among other things, faculty. The court also noted the woeful lack of progress that the Board had made: For example, with 15,000 black children and 25,000 white children in the district, only 550 black students were attending white schools and no white children were attending previously all-black schools. Assessing all of the evidence, Judge Johnson declared that "the defendants have failed to discharge the affirmative duty the law places on them to eliminate the operation of a dual school system." 289 F.Supp. 647, 652 (M.D. Ala. 1968). He also expressed frustration with the Board's delays, and he presented a supplement to the initial desegregation plan, including a specific target ratio for teacher reassignment, rejecting the Board's argument that it was powerless because no teachers had volunteered to be reassigned.

On August 1, 1968, the Fifth Circuit largely affirmed the District Court's order -- however, it eliminated the fixed ratios for teacher reassignment. Montgomery County Board of Education v. Carr, 400 F.2d 1(5th Cir. 1968).

The Fifth Circuit then denied rehearing en banc over a vigorous dissent, which declared: "Loath as judges are to articulate constitutional goals or actions in the oft-disparaged mechanical terms of arithmetic, this is an area where it is not the spirit, but the bodies which count." Montgomery County Board of Education v. Carr, 402 F.2d 782, 786 (mem).

The plaintiffs appealed the decision up to the Supreme Court, which overturned the Fifth Circuit on the teacher ratios and approved the District Court's plan. United States v. Montgomery County Board of Education, 395 U.S. 225 (1969).

On August 19, 1969, Judge Johnson found that the freedom-of-choice plan in effect since 1967 was no longer effective. He ordered the parties to submit alternate plans, and on February 25, 1970, he adopted the Board's plan. The plaintiffs appealed the decision to the Fifth Circuit. The plaintiffs argued on appeal for the adoption of a new plan but the Fifth Circuit maintained that "they cannot point to any basic flaw in the plan's overall effectiveness." Carr v. Montgomery County Board of Education, 395 U.S. 225, 385 (5th Cir. 1970). Nonetheless, despite largely affirming Judge Johnson's decision, the Fifth Circuit remanded the case for revision of the majority-to-minority transfer provision to increase transportation options.

The plan remained largely unaltered for a few years until changes in residential patterns and additional decisions by the Fifth Circuit and the Supreme Court took hold. Thus, in 1973, Judge Johnson asked the parties to submit suggestions for further desegregation proposals. After analyzing the options, the court agreed to the Board's proposal, notwithstanding "the existence of a small number of predominately black schools", concluding that "is not in and of itself a sign that a dual school system exists." Carr v. Montgomery County Board of Education, 377 F.Supp. 1123, 1133 (M.D. Ala. May 22, 1974). Thus, he concluded, the "neighborhood" plan was constitutionally adequate for elementary schools, as was the middle- and high school plan.

The plaintiffs appealed the decision, but on April 11, 1975, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the District Court's decision. Judge Goldberg offered a lengthy dissent in which he contended that the Board's plans were constitutionally inadequate and that the District Court was wrong to ignore the student assignment element and hold that the five other Green factors for finding unitary status were sufficient to overcome what he saw as the inadequacy in reassignment. Carr v. Montgomery County Board of Education, 511 F.2d 1374 (5th Cir. 1975).

On May 28, 1993, the court declared that the school system had achieved unitary status and released the Board from its jurisdiction. Unfortunately, we have been unable to locate via Westlaw or on the web the court's 1993 order or any proceedings leading up to it. The last published opinion from Westlaw is the one from 1975. But we know about the 1993 unitary status proceedings and their outcome from a 1996 case, in which the court explained:

On May 28, 1993, this court declared that the Montgomery County BoE had achieved a unitary school system and released the BoE from the court's jurisdiction. See Carr v. Montgomery County Bd. of Educ., Civ.A. No. 64–2072 (M.D.Ala. May 28, 1993) (order dismissing case). Dismissal of the Montgomery County school desegregation case, however, did not mean the end of the M to M program. Prior to dismissal of the case, the Montgomery County BoE had adopted a resolution stating that the M to M program would continue “subject to any recommendation the Superintendent may make as to the manner in which the program operates.” See Res. of Montgomery County Bd. of Educ. (May 26, 1995). Pursuant to this resolution, the M to M program still exists today, but it is no longer a court-ordered program. Instead, it is a voluntary program maintained by the Montgomery County BoE to assist in preserving the unitary status of the school system.
Young By & Through Young v. Montgomery Cty. (Alabama) Bd. of Educ., 922 F. Supp. 544, 546–47 (M.D. Ala. 1996).

In that case court explained that while the district had achieved unitary status, the Board had voluntarily agreed to maintain the majority-to-minority program in place.

Available Opinions

Carr v. Montgomery County Board of Education, 232 F.Supp. 705 (M.D. Ala. 1964)

Carr v. Montgomery County Board of Education, 253 F.Supp. 306 (M.D. Ala. 1966)

Carr v. Montgomery County Board of Education, 289 F.Supp. 647 (M.D. Ala. 1968)

Montgomery County Board of Education v. Carr, 400 F.2d 1 (5th Cir. 1968)

Montgomery County Board of Education v. Carr, 402 F.2d 782 (mem)

United States v. Montgomery County Board of Education, 395 U.S. 225 (1969)

Carr v. Montgomery County Board of Education, 429 F.2d 382 (5th Cir. 1970)

Carr v. Montgomery County Board of Education, 377 F.Supp. 1123, 1133 (M.D. Ala. 1974)

Carr v. Montgomery County Board of Education, 511 F.2d 1374 (5th Cir. 1975)

Summary Authors

Greg Margolis (2/23/2017)

People


Judge(s)

Black, Hugo Lafayette (District of Columbia)

Brown, John Robert (Louisiana)

Gewin, Walter Pettus (Alabama)

Goldberg, Irving Loeb (Louisiana)

Johnson, Frank Minis Jr. (Alabama)

Thornberry, William Homer (Texas)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Barrett, St. John (District of Columbia)

Hardeman, Ben (Alabama)

Kennedy, Robert (District of Columbia)

Marlin, David H. (District of Columbia)

Judge(s)

Black, Hugo Lafayette (District of Columbia)

Brown, John Robert (Louisiana)

Gewin, Walter Pettus (Alabama)

Goldberg, Irving Loeb (Louisiana)

Johnson, Frank Minis Jr. (Alabama)

Thornberry, William Homer (Texas)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Barrett, St. John (District of Columbia)

Hardeman, Ben (Alabama)

Kennedy, Robert (District of Columbia)

Marlin, David H. (District of Columbia)

Marshall, Burke (District of Columbia)

Robison, Vaughn Hill (Alabama)

Other Attorney(s)

DeMent, Ira (Alabama)

Graves, William C. (District of Columbia)

Landsberg, Brian K. (District of Columbia)

Pottinger, J. Stanley (District of Columbia)

Rich, Joseph D. (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Complaint

USA v. Montgomery County Board of Education

June 15, 1962 Complaint

Opinion

232 F.Supp. 705

July 31, 1964 Order/Opinion

Opinion

253 F.Supp. 306

March 22, 1966 Order/Opinion

Order Amending Order of March 22, 1966

Aug. 18, 1966 Order/Opinion

[Letter from Defendants Submitting Report]

June 7, 1967 Findings Letter/Report

Memorandum Opinion

289 F.Supp. 647

Feb. 24, 1968 Order/Opinion

Opinion

Montgomery County Board of Education v. Carr

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

400 F.2d 1

Aug. 1, 1968 Order/Opinion

Opinion

Montgomery County Board of Education v. Carr

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

402 F.2d 782

Oct. 21, 1968 Order/Opinion

Opinion

United States v. Montgomery County Board of Education

Supreme Court of the United States

395 U.S. 225, 89 S.Ct. 1670

June 2, 1969 Order/Opinion

Opinion

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

429 F.2d 382

June 29, 1970 Order/Opinion

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: Alabama

Case Type(s):

School Desegregation

Special Collection(s):

Civil Rights Division Archival Collection

Key Dates

Filing Date: June 15, 1962

Closing Date: 1993

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

African-American school children (class action) in the Montgomery County school system

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

Montgomery County (Montgomery), 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:

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

U.S. Supreme Court merits 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 - 1993

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief denied

Busing

Student assignment

Discrimination Prohibition

Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention

Monitor/Master

Issues

General:

Disparate Treatment

Education

Racial segregation

Transportation

Discrimination-basis:

Race discrimination

Race:

Black

Type of Facility:

Government-run