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Lau v. Nichols

United States Supreme Court
414 U.S. 563 (1974)


Facts

The San Francisco Unified School District (the district) (defendant) had about 2,800 students of Chinese ancestry who did not speak English. Approximately 1,800 of those students were not receiving any supplemental courses in the English language. California state law provided that English was the basic language of instruction in all state schools. The non-English speaking Chinese students (plaintiffs) brought a class action lawsuit against the district, alleging violations of the Equal Protection Clause and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The district court ruled in favor of the district. The plaintiffs appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which affirmed the district court’s decision. The plaintiffs then petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Douglas, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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Concurrence (Blackmun, J.)

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