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Godby v. Montgomery County Board of Education
United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama
996 F. Supp. 1390 (1998)
Cloverdale Junior High School operated a race-based election for homecoming queens and their courts each year. Candidates had to declare their race as Black or White in order to participate, and students in each homeroom had to nominate candidates to run in each racial category. Winners from each homeroom in each category were added to the schoolwide ballot for the final vote. A biracial student, Bethany Godby (plaintiff), was nominated to run in the White and the Black categories in her homeroom. The homecoming director required Bethany to choose one category or the other. Bethany’s classmates encouraged her to run in the White category, and she won the vote in her homeroom both in an initial election and in a second vote held after the first vote was invalidated. Despite Bethany’s win as the White candidate, her name was not added to schoolwide ballot. The homecoming director admitted checking Bethany’s school record after the first vote, which listed her as Black. Bethany brought suit alleging racial discrimination because of her name’s removal from the general ballot as a White candidate. School officials alleged that Bethany did not win in her homeroom and, therefore, never qualified to be added to the general ballot. The Montgomery County Board of Education (defendant) defended the school and its dual-voting system. Some officials indicated that the race-based selection system was meant to provide equal opportunity or to help all students feel connected to the school, but many testified that they knew of no compelling reason for the system. In fact, the school did not classify children by race in any other extracurricular activity. The school did not use the race-based vote for homecoming queen one year, but chose to reinstate it after White students, who were in the minority at the school, and their parents complained. The Montgomery County Board of Education moved for summary judgment.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Albritton, C.J.)
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