Morgan v. Kerrigan

530 F.2d 401 (1976)

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Morgan v. Kerrigan

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
530 F.2d 401 (1976)


A class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of Black students attending public schools and their parents against John Kerrigan and others (defendants). At the close of the liability phase of the litigation, in 1974, a district court made a finding of an official policy of intentional segregation, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. During the remedy phase of the litigation, the district court devised a desegregation plan that included a requirement to bus children to different schools. An organization composed of parents, the Boston Home and School Association (the association) (defendant), alleged that the plan was defective because it failed to consider White flight and the result it would have in resegregating Boston public schools. White flight was a term used to reflect the flight of White children from Boston’s city schools to schools that were private, religious, or suburban in response to desegregation. The Supreme Court had ruled that upon a finding of violation, judges or school officials should attempt to achieve the greatest level of desegregation, accounting for the practicalities of the circumstances. Some litigants wanted the district court to limit desegregation to minimize the number of White children leaving the public schools. Tallulah Morgan (plaintiff) argued that the district court could not consider White flight in devising its desegregation plan. The district court ruled that opposition in the form of White flight was not a practicality that the desegregation plan could accommodate. The district court held that such accommodation would toss away the rights of children to a desegrated education to appease those who preferred continued segregation. Boston mayor Kevin White (defendant) and the association appealed, arguing that White flight should be considered as a practicality for which accommodation could be made because it led to resegregation, and the actual desegregation achieved should be limited to an amount that the White community would accept.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Coffin, C.J.)

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