Askew v. Hargrave - 401 U.S. 476 (1971)
U.S. Supreme Court
Askew v. Hargrave, 401 U.S. 476 (1971)
Askew v. Hargrave
Argued February 23-24, 1971
Decided March 8, 1971
401 U.S. 476
Appellees brought this suit in federal court challenging Florida's Millage Rollback Law as violative of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment on the ground that it had an invidiously discriminatory effect in its distribution of taxing authority for educational purposes by a standard related solely to a county's wealth. Appellants contended that the statute was only part of a total plan more nearly to equalize school children's educational opportunities on a state-wide basis. A three-judge District Court granted appellees' motion for summary judgment on the basis of the pleadings and appellees' affidavit, having rejected appellants' argument that the District Court should abstain from considering the case because of an intervening state court proceeding attacking the law on state constitutional grounds.
1. The District Court mistakenly relied upon Monroe v. Pape, 365 U. S. 167, and McNeese v. Board of Education, 373 U. S. 668, in refusing to abstain from deciding the case on the merits pending resolution by the state courts of state constitutional claims, the sustainment of which would obviate the need for determining the Fourteenth Amendment issue. Reetz v. Bozanich, 397 U. S. 82, is an example of the line of decisions that should inform the discretion of the District Court in determining whether to abstain.
2. Since the manner in which Florida's overall program operates may be critical in resolving the equal protection claim, that claim should be decided not by summary judgment, but after a full hearing.
313 F.Supp. 944, vacated and remanded.