Green v. County School Board of New Kent County

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Green v. County School Board of New Kent Co.
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued April 3, 1968
Decided May 27, 1968
Full case name Charles C. Green et al. v. County School Board of New Kent County, Virginia et al.
Citations 391 U.S. 430 (more)
88 S.Ct. 1689, 20 L.Ed.2d 716
Prior history 382 F.2d 338 (4th Cir. 1967), cert. granted, 389 U.S. 1003.
New Kent County's freedom of choice desegregation plan did not comply with the dictates of Brown v. Board of Education and was therefore unconstitutional.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Brennan, joined by unanimous
Laws applied
U.S. Const., amend. XIV

Green v. County School Board of New Kent County, 391 U.S. 430 (1968) was an important United States Supreme Court case dealing with the freedom of choice plans created to comply with the mandate in Brown II. The Court held that New Kent County's freedom of choice plan did not constitute adequate compliance with the school board's responsibility to determine a system of admission to public schools on a non-racial basis. The Supreme Court mandated that the school board must formulate new plans and steps towards realistically converting to a desegregated system.

Legal background[edit]

In Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 the Warren Court ruled that school segregation was unconstitutional. One year later, in Brown II, enforcement of this principle was given to district courts, ordering that they take the necessary steps to make admittance to public schools nondiscriminatory "with all deliberate speed." The term "all deliberate speed" did little to speed up the school board's plan for integration. Circuit Judge John J. Parker led many in the South in interpreting Brown as a charge not to segregate, but not an order to integrate. In 1963 the Court ruled in McNeese v. Board of Education and Goss v. Board of Education in favor of integration, and showed impatience with efforts to end segregation.

Factual background[edit]

New Kent County is a rural county in Eastern Virginia. About one-half of its population of some 4,500 residents were black. There was no residential segregation in the county. The school system had only two combined elementary and high schools, one for whites, one for blacks. The 21 school buses traveled overlapping routes throughout the county. The segregated system was initially established and maintained under the state mandated racial segregation in public education. The School Board continued the segregated operation of the system after the Brown decisions, on the authority of several statutes enacted by Virginia in resistance to those decisions. Some of these statutes were held to be unconstitutional. One statute, the Pupil Placement Act, not repealed until 1966, divested local boards of authority to assign children to particular schools and placed that authority in a State Pupil Placement Board. Under that Act, children were automatically reassigned each year to the school previously attended unless, upon their application, the State Board assigned them to another school; students seeking enrollment for the first time were also assigned at the discretion of the State Board. White families almost uniformly chose the white-identified school, and blacks almost uniformly chose the black-identified school. To September 1964, no pupil had applied for admission to another school under this statute.

Green before the Supreme Court[edit]

This case was argued along with Raney v. Board of Education of Gould School District and Monroe v. Board of Commissioners of Jackson, Tenn. In the last one, the plan in question was called free transfer.

Samuel W. Tucker argued the case for the petitioners, Frederick Gray for the School Board. Louis Claiborne represented the federal government. While the Court did not rule that "freedom of choice" plans were always unconstitutional, it did note that they tended to be ineffective at desegregating a school system, and held that in New Kent County's case the freedom-of-choice plan violated the Constitution.

The decision led to the search for other options, such as zoning, for the placement of students.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

  • List of United States Supreme Court cases, volume 391
  • Allen, Jody and Daugherity, Brian. “Recovering a ‘Lost’ Story Using Oral History: The United States Supreme Court’s Historic Green v. New Kent County, Virginia, Decision,” Oral History Review, vol. 3, issue 2, 25-45 (June 2006).
  • Daugherity, Brian and Bolton, Charles, editors. With All Deliberate Speed: Implementing Brown v. Board of Education. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2008.

External links[edit]