The Supreme Court held that federal judges could not order the busing of students across school district lines into districts that had done nothing to promote racial segregation.
A federal district judge ordered a desegregation plan for the greater Detroit area, which included the predominantly black central city and fifty-three suburban school districts in which the students were mostly white. The judge had found that the Detroit school board had been guilty of practices that constituted de jure segregation. Although there was no evidence that any of the other districts had promoted segregation, he decided that a Detroit-only plan was inadequate to achieve school desegregation. He justified his order by referring to Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education
By a 5-4 margin, the Supreme Court held that the district judge had exceeded his authority. Speaking for the Court, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger
Milliken defused the criticism directed at the Court because of the busing issue, but it did not entirely eliminate controversial interdistrict desegregation plans. In Boston and other cities, court-ordered busing produced intense hostility and even violence. In the 1990’s, however, controversy about the issue decreased as busing became much less common.
Board of Education of Oklahoma City v. Dowell
Race and discrimination
School integration and busing
Segregation, de facto
Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education