Wygant v. Jackson Board of Education

476 U.S. 267, 106 S. Ct. 1842, 90 L. Ed. 2d 260 (1986)

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Wygant v. Jackson Board of Education

United States Supreme Court
476 U.S. 267, 106 S. Ct. 1842, 90 L. Ed. 2d 260 (1986)

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Facts

In 1972, the Jackson Board of Education (the board) (defendant) added a layoff provision to its collective-bargaining agreement with the teachers’ union. The provision stated that if it became necessary to reduce the number of teachers in the district, the board’s layoffs would be based on seniority, with longer-tenured teachers being retained over teachers with shorter tenure. The provision contained one exception, stating that at no time would the number of minority personnel laid off exceed the then-current percentage of minority personnel employed. In the 1976–1977 and 1981–1982 school years, layoffs were necessary. To avoid violating the collective-bargaining agreement, the board laid off certain nonminority teachers, including Wendy Wygant (plaintiff), while retaining minority teachers with less seniority. Wygant and other nonminority teachers who were laid off (plaintiffs) sued the board, alleging, among other things, violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. On cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court dismissed the claims, finding the layoff provision constitutional. The court reasoned that the provision’s racial preference was permissible as a means of remedying societal discrimination by providing role models for minority school children. The court of appeals affirmed, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Powell, J.)

Concurrence (White, J.)

Concurrence (O’Connor, J.)

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