SPENCER v. KUGLER
404 U.S. 1027 (1972)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

SPENCER v. KUGLER , 404 U.S. 1027 (1972)

404 U.S. 1027

Vivian SPENCER et al.
v.
George F. KUGLER et al.
No. 71-519.

Supreme Court of the United States

January 17, 1972

The judgment is affirmed.

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, dissenting.

The Black students in this case want nothing more than to receive the same quality of education from our public schools as is enjoyed by the Whites. To deny them that equality is to sanction the dispensation of public benefits according to the invidious classification of race.

Page 404 U.S. 1027 , 1028

Appellants sought to convene a three-judge District Court in order to challenge the constitutionality of New Jersey's statutory scheme establishing the boundaries of school districts. They argue that by establishing school district lines to coincide with the boundaries of the State's political subdivisions, cf. N.J.Stat. 18A:8-1, the State imposed upon the public schools patterns of racial imbalance in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. 1983. It is said in reply that New Jersey only prescribes school district boundaries in conformity with municipal boundaries. There is, however, a showing that at times a Black has to walk further to his school than the White school in his neighborhood. The remedy is redistricting. We have sponsored that process to protect the right to vote. Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533. The right to education in the environment of a multi- racial community seems equally fundamental.

The result, according to appellants, is an inferior education for students of minority races-something this Court has long condemned. McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents, 339 U.S. 637; Sweatt v. Painter, 339 U.S. 629; Sipuel v. Board of Regents of University of Oklahoma, 332 U.S. 631; Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, 305 U.S. 337. See also Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537; Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356. Appellants sought either a redistricting or an appropriate racial balance in the public schools so that educational opportunity would not be determined by race, cf. Gomperts v. Chase, 404 1237, 1240, 18 (1971), or compensatory educational programs to correct for the inferior schooling given minority students. The District Court rejected this approach, however, and dismissed the complaint, finding refuge in de facto segregation. 326 F.Supp. 1235.

If any form of state-imposed segregation is proved, then the racially homogeneous residential neighborhoods [404 U.S. 1027 , 1029]


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