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Case Name United States v. Fordice SD-MS-0004
Docket / Court No. GC75–9–NB ( N.D. Miss. )
State/Territory Mississippi
Case Type(s) Education
School Desegregation
Case Summary
This is a school desegregation case originating in Mississippi and concerning the desegregation process of the Mississippi public university system. This summary is based on information from historical sources and judicial opinions. After the integration mandate of Brown v. Board of Education ... read more >
This is a school desegregation case originating in Mississippi and concerning the desegregation process of the Mississippi public university system. This summary is based on information from historical sources and judicial opinions. After the integration mandate of Brown v. Board of Education, Mississippi maintained its dual education system in its public universities. The pre-trial history of the case is summarized in Ayers v. Allain, 674 F.Supp. 1523 (N.D.Miss.1987).

In 1969 the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) required Mississippi to submit integration plans. Although these plans were rejected by HEW, Mississippi implemented them anyway. The plans mostly included giving the universities mission statements instead of classifying each university by race. The five historically white institutions were given more prestigious mission statements, received more funding, and required a higher ACT score for admission in comparison to the three historically black institutions. The historically black institutions had “urban” mission statements and only required an ACT score of 13 (historically white institutions required between 15-17 depending on the university). The mission statements had virtually the same effect as the explicit classifications—in 1986, 99% of white undergraduate students attended a historically white institution, and 71% of black undergraduate students attended a historically black institution. Ayers v. Allain, 893 F.2d 732 (5th Cir. Feb. 06, 1990).

On January 28, 1975, private litigants filed a class action against Governor of Mississippi Kirk Fordice and other state and university officials. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants maintained a segregated system of higher education in violation of the Fifth, Ninth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. They brought their claim under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The United States intervened in support of the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs sought injunctive relief against the state and conformity to constitutional requirements. In response, the defendants claimed that they had implemented a unitary system and student choice was primarily responsible for the racial identification of the schools.

On September 17, 1975, a three judge district court panel was convened to hear the case. Judge William C. Keady, Chief judge of the Northern District of Mississippi, certified and defined the plaintiff class as:
"All black citizens residing in Mississippi, whether students, former students, parents, employees, or taxpayers, who have been, are, or will be discriminated against on account of race in receiving equal educational opportunity and/or equal employment opportunity in the universities operated by said Board of Trustees."

Judge Keady also ordered the separation of the claims against the senior colleges and universities from the junior colleges. This summary relates only to the senior colleges and universities.

For approximately twelve years the parties attempted to find an acceptable solution to the issues raised. However, the parties were unsuccessful and the case ultimately went to trial, starting on April 27, 1987. On December 10, 1987, Senior Judge Neal B. Biggers held in favor of the defendants, finding that they had implemented race neutral policies in good faith. The District Court’s opinion considered the areas of: admission requirements and recruitment; institutional classification and assignment of missions; duplication of programs; facilities and finance; the land grant institutions; faculty and staff; and governance, and ruled in favor of the defendants on all issues.

The plaintiffs appealed Judge Biggers’ decision to the Fifth Circuit. On February 6, 1990, a three judge panel reversed and remanded the District Court’s decision. Ayers v. Allain, 893 F.2d 732 (5th Cir. Feb. 06, 1990). The 5th Circuit found the defendants had not met their burden of achieving a unitary system and the plaintiffs had successfully established a Title VI claim. That same day, a member of the Fifth Circuit suggested hearing the case en banc and a majority approved. Ayers v. Allain, 898 F.2d 1014 (5th Cir. Apr. 09, 1990).

On September 28, 1990, Circuit Judge Duhé, writing for a majority, affirmed the decision of the District Court. The 5th Circuit held that Mississippi had satisfied its constitutional obligations by discontinuing prior discriminatory practices and adopting and implementing good-faith, race-neutral policies and procedures.” Ayers v. Allain, 914 F.2d 676 (5th Cir. Sep. 28, 1990).

The plaintiffs appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.

On June 26, 1992, the Supreme Court vacated and remanded the decision of the Fifth Circuit. Justice White delivered the opinion for a majority of the Court, holding, “If the State perpetuates policies and practices traceable to its prior system that continue to have segregative effects—whether by influencing student enrollment decisions or by fostering segregation in other facets of the university system—and such policies are without sound educational justification and can be practicably eliminated, the State has not satisfied its burden of proving that it has dismantled its prior system.” Justice White stated it was clear that although the policies were neutral on their face, they contributed to the racial identifiability of the eight institutions and thus had to be justified or eliminated. Justice White focused on four areas as problematic: admission standards, program duplication, mission assignments for each institution, and the operation of all eight universities. U.S. v. Fordice, 505 U.S. 717 (June 26, 1992).

In response to the Supreme Court’s decision, trial commenced in the district court on May 9, 1994.

On March 7, 1995, the District Court held that the defendants had violated the Constitution. The District Court found the admissions criteria, duplication of programs, the mission statements, and the continued operation of eight universities to be traceable to past de jure segregation. The court issued a remedial decree that enjoined the defendants from maintaining de jure segregation in the system of public higher education or from engaging in any practice that would impede the desegregation of the school system. The remedial decree created a Monitoring Committee to oversee the implementation of the decree. Other requirements of the remedial decree included: new uniform admission standards and a summer program, increased funding to the historically black institutions, the addition of more prestigious programs to the historically black institutions, and the completion of a study to increase the diversity of programs. The remedial decree did not have a requirement for program duplication and found that combining institutions in order to decrease the number of open universities was not constitutionally required. For specific details of the remedial decree, see Ayers v. Fordice, 879 F. Supp. 1419 (N.D. Miss. Mar. 07, 1995).

The plaintiffs appealed the District Court’s order, contending the State left in place practices that maintained de jure segregation and had discriminatory effects. On April 23, 1997, the Fifth Circuit, in an opinion by Judge King, mostly affirmed the findings of the District Court. Judge King explained the District Court maintained jurisdiction over the case and should determine if the new admissions strategy achieved its desired objectives and if not, to implement new standards. Ayers v. Fordice, 111 F.3d 1183 (5th Cir. Apr. 23, 1997)

Following remand from the Fifth Circuit, the parties attempted to settle. Between the Fifth Circuit’s remand and February 15, 2002, the defendants slowly implemented the remedial decree and had funding proposals approved. The Fifth Circuit documented the parties activity during this time period in Ayers v. Thompson, 358 F.3d 356 (5th Cir. Jan. 27, 2004). The parties did come to a settlement agreement.

The terms of the agreement are also documented in Ayers, 358 F.3d 356. The settlement agreement allocated various types of funding for programs at the historically black institutions. The agreement also required the acknowledgement of Jackson State University as a comprehensive university. Under the agreement, the attorneys for the Private Plaintiffs received a total of $2.5 million for fees, costs, and expenses. The District Court decided that if the Mississippi legislature approved the settlement and would fund the agreement, the District Court would approve the settlement. See Ayers v. Musgrove, No. 4:75CV009-B-D, 2002 WL 91895 (N.D.Miss. Jan.2, 2002).

On February 15, 2002, the District Court approved a proposed Settlement Agreement and re-affirmed the plaintiff’s class certification. This order dismissed the case with prejudice. Ayers v. Musgrove, No. 4:75CV009-B-D, 2002 WL 32127613, at *2 (N.D.Miss. Feb.15, 2002).

On January 27, 2004, the Fifth Circuit upheld the approval of the settlement agreement. Ayers v. Thompson, 358 F.3d 356 (5th Cir. Jan. 27, 2004).

The case is now closed.

Opinions:
Ayers v. Allain, 674 F. Supp. 1523 (N.D.Miss. Dec. 10, 1987)
Ayers v. Allain, 893 F.2d 732 (5th Cir. Feb. 06, 1990)
Ayers v. Allain, 898 F.2d 1014 (5th Cir. Apr. 09, 1990)
Ayers v. Allain, 914 F.2d 676 (5th Cir. Sep. 28, 1990)
Ayers v. Mabus, 499 U.S. 958 (Apr. 15, 1991)
U.S. v. Mabus, 499 U.S. 958 (Apr. 15 1991)
U.S. v. Fordice, 505 U.S. 717 (June 26, 1992)
Ayers v. Fordice, 970 F.2d 1378 (5th Cir. Aug. 18, 1992)
Ayers v. Fordice, 879 F. Supp. 1419 (N.D.Miss. Mar. 07, 1995)
Ayers v. Fordice, 99 F.3d 1136 (5th Cir. Apr. 23, 1997)
Ayers v. Fordice, 111 F.3d 1183 (5th Cir. Apr. 23, 1997)
Ayers v. Fordice, 522 U.S. 1084 (Jan. 20, 1998)
Ayers v. Fordice, 40 F.Supp.2d 382 (N.D.Miss. Mar. 24, 1999)
Ayers v. Fordice, No. 4:75CV009-B-D, 2000 WL 1015839 (N.D. Miss. July 06, 2000)
Ayers v. Musgrove, 31 Fed. App’x. 160 (5th Cir. Dec. 28, 2001)
Ayers v. Musgrove, 537 U.S. 861 (Oct. 07, 2002)
Ayers v. Musgrove, No. 4:75CV009-B-D, 2002 WL 91895 (N.D. Miss. Jan. 02, 2002)
Ayers v. Musgrove, 37 Fed. App’x. 87 (5th Cir. Apr. 23, 2002)
Ayers v. Thompson, 358 F.3d 356 (5th Cir. Jan. 27, 2004)
Ayers v. Thompson, 543 U.S. 951 (Oct. 18, 2004)
Ayers v. Barbour, No. 475CV9-B-D, 2005 WL 1130284 (N.D.Miss. May 13, 2005)

Taylor Brook - 02/10/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Slavery/Involuntary servitude
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Reporting
Defendant-type
College/University
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Education
Funding
School/University Facilities
School/University policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Race
Black
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.
Defendant(s) Coahoma Junior College
Governor of Mississippi, Kirk Fordice
Hinds Junior College/Board of Trustees
Mississippi Delta Junior College/ Board of Trustees
State of Mississippi
Utica Junior College/Board of Trustees
Plaintiff Description All black citizens residing in Mississippi, whether students, former students, parents, employees, or taxpayers, who have been, are, or will be discriminated against on account of race in receiving equal educational opportunity and/or equal employment opportunity in the universities operated by said Board of Trustees.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1995 - n/a
Filing Year 1975
Case Closing Year 2004
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
4:75−cv−00009 (N.D. Miss.)
SD-MS-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/28/2007
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
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Judges Biggers, Neal Brooks Jr. (N.D. Miss.) show/hide docs
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Plaintiff's Lawyers Boone, Jerry (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Byrd, Isaac K. Jr. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Chambliss, Alvin O. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Derfner, Armand Georges (South Carolina) show/hide docs
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Douglas, Nathaniel (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Freeland, Thomas H. III (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Hailman, John R. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Keys, Suzanne Griggins (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Martin, Precious Tyrone (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Pearl, Richard M (California) show/hide docs
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Pressman, Robert Peter (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
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Thome, Linda F. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Turner, Bennie L. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Walker, John L. Jr. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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White, K. Heshima (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Younger, Levern M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Defendant's Lawyers Bradley, William Ross (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Crosthwait, Frank O. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Goodman, William F. Jr. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Moore, Mike (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Noble, Ed Davis Jr. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Piazza, Ben J. Jr. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Stephenson, Paul H. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Other Lawyers Montgomery, Carl Robert (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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