Geier v. Alexander

801 F.2d 799 (1986)

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Geier v. Alexander

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
801 F.2d 799 (1986)

Facts

In Geier v. Blanton, a district court ordered the merger of two Nashville-based universities, one predominately White and one predominately Black, after several plans had failed to erode the racially discriminatory two-tiered system of higher education. The United States joined the initial Geier lawsuit, filed in 1968, as an intervening party, urging the court to order the defendants to formulate a plan that would produce meaningful desegregation of public universities in the state. Throughout the 16 years of litigation, the United States urged the parties to adopt broader, more far-reaching proposals to achieve that end. On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld the district court’s order and agreed with the findings underlying its decision. Following the district court’s order, the parties entered into a stipulation to implement the merger, which was approved as a consent decree by the district court. The United States objected to one provision of the consent decree whereby the defendants agreed to coordinate a cooperative program to increase the number of Black students enrolled in professional programs. Under the program, professional schools were required to admit the selected candidates if they completed their undergraduate work and met minimum admissions standards. The program had a goal of 75 Black candidates for professional education each year for five years. The United States objected on the ground that it exceeded the scope of judicial remedial power and violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause by giving Black students preferential treatment. Specifically, the United States argued that low minority enrollment in professional schools was not a vestige of the segregated system. The district court rejected these arguments, finding that the present disparity between Black and White enrollment in professional studies was the result of state-sponsored segregation. The United States appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Lively, C.J.)

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