• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court limited the lower federal courts’ ability to impose fines on local governing bodies.

The Yonkers, New York, city council reneged on a consent decree in which it agreed to stop using federal public housing funds to promote segregated public housing. The federal district court imposed daily increasing fines for contempt both on the city and on the individual council members. By a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court overturned the district court’s ruling, effectively placing limits on the ability of lower courts to impose fines on local government. The Court criticized the fines on the individual council members, maintaining that the members should have been given more time to comply. Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., dissented, arguing that the local federal judge knew the situation better than the Court did and should be granted the discretion to handle the case.Speech, freedom of;Spallone v. United States[Spallone v. United States]Discrimination, housing;Spallone v. United States[Spallone v. United States]

Contempt power of courts

Federalism

Housing discrimination

Race and discrimination

Segregation, de jure

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