Case: United States of America v. State of North Carolina

5:73-cv-04476 | U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina

Filed Date: Oct. 16, 1973

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This case challenged North Carolina's use of a qualifying exam to certify teachers, alleging that the state's use of exam cut-off scores discriminated against Black and other minority candidates. On October 16, 1973, the United States, through the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, brought this pattern and practice lawsuit against the state of North Carolina in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The Justice Department alleged that the North Carolina …

This case challenged North Carolina's use of a qualifying exam to certify teachers, alleging that the state's use of exam cut-off scores discriminated against Black and other minority candidates. On October 16, 1973, the United States, through the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, brought this pattern and practice lawsuit against the state of North Carolina in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The Justice Department alleged that the North Carolina General Assembly's establishment of testing cutoffs for the certification of school teachers violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection clause and asked the court to hold those requirements preempted. The North Carolina Association of Educators, as well as 24 individual Black teachers on behalf of a larger class of candidates, intervened to bring requests for monetary damages and attorneys fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

In 1964, the North Carolina Board of Education, for the first time, instituted a minimum score on the National Teacher Examination (NTE) for teachers to be certified in the state. However, the Board later retreated from that policy and incorporated other factors in the teacher certification process. The General Assembly responded in 1973 by reinstituting the minimum score requirements, over the objection of the state's Superintendent of Public Education. Statistics available to the Assembly at the time of this change showed that approximately 30% of Black candidates scored below the minimum, while only 1% of white candidates did so. Additionally, Educational Testing Service, the company that produced the NTE, opposed the use of the minimum scoring in this fashion.

On August 27, 1975, a three-judge district court, consisting of U.S. Circuit Judges Clement Haynsworth and James Braxton Craven, Jr., and U.S. District Judge Franklin Taylor Dupree, Jr. issued an opinion in plaintiffs' favor. 400 F. Supp. 343 "We hold that selection of a cut-off score that has not been shown to reveal teacher competency and that has a disparate impact on blacks ‘. . . is not reasonably related to any proper governmental objective,’ and constitutes a burdensome and arbitrary denial of equal protection under the fourteenth amendment." Id. at 349. The court granted the plaintiffs a declaratory judgment that the statute implementing the minimum score was unconstitutional and an injunction allowing class members to become licenses. It reserved the question of monetary remedies under the class member's 1983 claim. The court did not reach the Title VII liability issues.

However, on June 7, 1976, the Supreme Court decided Washington v. Davis, 426 U.S. 229 (1975). That case allowed the Washington D.C. Police Department to employ a test for potential recruits which Black applicants did disproportionately worse on. The Supreme Court reasoned that there was no constitutional violation because the Department lacked discriminatory intent.

In light of Davis, the three-judge district court issued a new opinion on January 27, 1977, vacating its earlier opinion and judgment finding the state constitutionally liable. 425 F. Supp. 789. In this new opinion, the court stated that its "characterization of the actions taken was based on several unstated assumptions which, if not completely undermined by Washington, at least require reconsideration in light of that case." Id. at 792-93. In addition to vacating the judgment, it reopened discovery.

Unfortunately, this case predates electronic filing and the Clearinghouse has no information about later developments in the case.

However, given its age, the case is presumably closed.

Summary Authors

Jonah Hudson-Erdman (6/1/2021)

People


Judge(s)

Craven, James Braxton Jr. (Virginia)

Dupree, Franklin Taylor Jr. (North Carolina)

Haynsworth, Clement Furman Jr. (South Carolina)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Bell, Daniel L. II (District of Columbia)

Chambers, J. LeVonne (New York)

Pollak, Stephen J. (District of Columbia)

Rubin, David (District of Columbia)

Sharp, Richard M. (District of Columbia)

Stein, Adam (North Carolina)

Judge(s)

Craven, James Braxton Jr. (Virginia)

Dupree, Franklin Taylor Jr. (North Carolina)

Haynsworth, Clement Furman Jr. (South Carolina)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Bell, Daniel L. II (District of Columbia)

Chambers, J. LeVonne (New York)

Pollak, Stephen J. (District of Columbia)

Rubin, David (District of Columbia)

Sharp, Richard M. (District of Columbia)

Stein, Adam (North Carolina)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

5:73-cv-04476

Proposed Findings of Fact and Legal Argument

March 19, 1975

March 19, 1975

Pleading / Motion / Brief

5:73-cv-04476

Reply Brief for the United States

United States of America and North Carolina Association of Educators v. State of North Carolina

June 21, 1975

June 21, 1975

Pleading / Motion / Brief

5:73-cv-04476

Opinion

United States v. State of North Carolina

Aug. 27, 1975

Aug. 27, 1975

Order/Opinion

5:73-cv-04476

Memorandum of Decision and Order

United States v. State of North Carolina

Jan. 27, 1977

Jan. 27, 1977

Order/Opinion

Docket

Last updated Aug. 26, 2022, 3:21 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: North Carolina

Case Type(s):

Equal Employment

Special Collection(s):

Civil Rights Division Archival Collection

Key Dates

Filing Date: Oct. 16, 1973

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

United States of America (DOJ Civil Rights); North Carolina Association of Educators; 24 individual Black teachers (on behalf of all other similarly situated teachers in North Carolina)

Plaintiff Type(s):

U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

State of North Carolina (Raleigh, Wake), State

Defendant Type(s):

Elementary/Secondary School

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e

Constitutional Clause(s):

Equal Protection

Availably Documents:

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Unknown

Nature of Relief:

Unknown

Source of Relief:

Unknown

Issues

General:

Disparate Impact

Pattern or Practice

Discrimination-area:

Hiring

Testing

Discrimination-basis:

Race discrimination

Race:

Black