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Case Name Carr v. Montgomery County Board of Education SD-AL-0012
Docket / Court No. 2072-N ( M.D. Ala. )
State/Territory Alabama
Case Type(s) School Desegregation
Special Collection Civil Rights Division Archival Collection
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
This desegregation case ran from 1964 to 1993, governing the schools in Montgomery County, Alabama, a school district that includes both the City of Montgomery and the surrounding county.

In 1964, the plaintiffs, several school children, brought this action in the U.S. District Court ... read more >
This desegregation case ran from 1964 to 1993, governing the schools in Montgomery County, Alabama, a school district that includes both the City of Montgomery and the surrounding county.

In 1964, the plaintiffs, several school children, brought this action in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama against the Montgomery County Board of Education, asking the court to enjoin the Board's practice of operating a dual school district. They were represented by, among others, Jack Greenberg. The court (Judge Frank Johnson) made the United States amicus curiae. On July 31, 1964, Judge Johnson granted the plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction, finding that the Board was unconstitutionally operating a segregated school district. Judge Johnson ordered the Board to take necessary steps to desegregate, starting with first, tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades, through the Alabama School Placement Law (a "freedom of choice" law). Carr v. Montgomery County Board of Education, 232 F.Supp. 705 (M.D. Ala. 1964).

On March 22, 1966, Judge Johnson entered a new order in the case, requiring the Board to desegregate grades 1-4 and 7-12 starting with the 1966 school term and grades 5 and 6, starting with the 1967 school term, all pursuant to the freedom of choice plan. Judge Johnson's order also included other measures relating to faculty hiring and retention, facilities and programs. 253 F.Supp. 306 (M.D. Ala. 1966).

On February 24, 1968, Judge Johnson issued another opinion in the case. The United States and the plaintiffs had filed two motions requesting that the defendants take further steps to desegregate the school system relating to, among other things, faculty. The court also noted the woeful lack of progress that the Board had made: For example, with 15,000 black children and 25,000 white children in the district, only 550 black students were attending white schools and no white children were attending previously all-black schools. Assessing all of the evidence, Judge Johnson declared that "the defendants have failed to discharge the affirmative duty the law places on them to eliminate the operation of a dual school system." 289 F.Supp. 647, 652 (M.D. Ala. 1968). He also expressed frustration with the Board's delays, and he presented a supplement to the initial desegregation plan, including a specific target ratio for teacher reassignment, rejecting the Board's argument that it was powerless because no teachers had volunteered to be reassigned.

On August 1, 1968, the Fifth Circuit largely affirmed the District Court's order -- however, it eliminated the fixed ratios for teacher reassignment. Montgomery County Board of Education v. Carr, 400 F.2d 1(5th Cir. 1968).

The Fifth Circuit then denied rehearing en banc over a vigorous dissent, which declared: "Loath as judges are to articulate constitutional goals or actions in the oft-disparaged mechanical terms of arithmetic, this is an area where it is not the spirit, but the bodies which count." Montgomery County Board of Education v. Carr, 402 F.2d 782, 786 (mem).

The plaintiffs appealed the decision up to the Supreme Court, which overturned the Fifth Circuit on the teacher ratios and approved the District Court's plan. United States v. Montgomery County Board of Education, 395 U.S. 225 (1969).

On August 19, 1969, Judge Johnson found that the freedom-of-choice plan in effect since 1967 was no longer effective. He ordered the parties to submit alternate plans, and on February 25, 1970, he adopted the Board's plan. The plaintiffs appealed the decision to the Fifth Circuit. The plaintiffs argued on appeal for the adoption of a new plan but the Fifth Circuit maintained that "they cannot point to any basic flaw in the plan's overall effectiveness." Carr v. Montgomery County Board of Education, 395 U.S. 225, 385 (5th Cir. 1970). Nonetheless, despite largely affirming Judge Johnson's decision, the Fifth Circuit remanded the case for revision of the majority-to-minority transfer provision to increase transportation options.

The plan remained largely unaltered for a few years until changes in residential patterns and additional decisions by the Fifth Circuit and the Supreme Court took hold. Thus, in 1973, Judge Johnson asked the parties to submit suggestions for further desegregation proposals. After analyzing the options, the court agreed to the Board's proposal, notwithstanding "the existence of a small number of predominately black schools", concluding that "is not in and of itself a sign that a dual school system exists." Carr v. Montgomery County Board of Education, 377 F.Supp. 1123, 1133 (M.D. Ala. May 22, 1974). Thus, he concluded, the "neighborhood" plan was constitutionally adequate for elementary schools, as was the middle- and high school plan.

The plaintiffs appealed the decision, but on April 11, 1975, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the District Court's decision. Judge Goldberg offered a lengthy dissent in which he contended that the Board's plans were constitutionally inadequate and that the District Court was wrong to ignore the student assignment element and hold that the five other Green factors for finding unitary status were sufficient to overcome what he saw as the inadequacy in reassignment. Carr v. Montgomery County Board of Education, 511 F.2d 1374 (5th Cir. 1975).

On May 28, 1993, the court declared that the school system had achieved unitary status and released the Board from its jurisdiction. Unfortunately, we have been unable to locate via Westlaw or on the web the court's 1993 order or any proceedings leading up to it. The last published opinion from Westlaw is the one from 1975. But we know about the 1993 unitary status proceedings and their outcome from a 1996 case, in which the court explained:
On May 28, 1993, this court declared that the Montgomery County BoE had achieved a unitary school system and released the BoE from the court's jurisdiction. See Carr v. Montgomery County Bd. of Educ., Civ.A. No. 64–2072 (M.D.Ala. May 28, 1993) (order dismissing case). Dismissal of the Montgomery County school desegregation case, however, did not mean the end of the M to M program. Prior to dismissal of the case, the Montgomery County BoE had adopted a resolution stating that the M to M program would continue “subject to any recommendation the Superintendent may make as to the manner in which the program operates.” See Res. of Montgomery County Bd. of Educ. (May 26, 1995). Pursuant to this resolution, the M to M program still exists today, but it is no longer a court-ordered program. Instead, it is a voluntary program maintained by the Montgomery County BoE to assist in preserving the unitary status of the school system.
Young By & Through Young v. Montgomery Cty. (Alabama) Bd. of Educ., 922 F. Supp. 544, 546–47 (M.D. Ala. 1996).

In that case court explained that while the district had achieved unitary status, the Board had voluntarily agreed to maintain the majority-to-minority program in place.

Available Opinions
Carr v. Montgomery County Board of Education, 232 F.Supp. 705 (M.D. Ala. 1964)
Carr v. Montgomery County Board of Education, 253 F.Supp. 306 (M.D. Ala. 1966)
Carr v. Montgomery County Board of Education, 289 F.Supp. 647 (M.D. Ala. 1968)
Montgomery County Board of Education v. Carr, 400 F.2d 1 (5th Cir. 1968)
Montgomery County Board of Education v. Carr, 402 F.2d 782 (mem)
United States v. Montgomery County Board of Education, 395 U.S. 225 (1969)
Carr v. Montgomery County Board of Education, 429 F.2d 382 (5th Cir. 1970)
Carr v. Montgomery County Board of Education, 377 F.Supp. 1123, 1133 (M.D. Ala. 1974)
Carr v. Montgomery County Board of Education, 511 F.2d 1374 (5th Cir. 1975)

Greg Margolis - 02/23/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Busing
Discrimination Prohibition
Monitor/Master
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Preliminary relief denied
Student assignment
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Disparate Treatment
Education
Racial segregation
Transportation
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
Defendant(s) Montgomery County
Plaintiff Description African-American school children (class action) in the Montgomery County school system
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Declaratory Judgment
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1963 - 1993
Case Closing Year 1993
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Complaint
SD-AL-0012-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/15/1962
Opinion (232 F.Supp. 705) (M.D. Ala.)
SD-AL-0012-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/31/1964
Source: Westlaw
Opinion (253 F.Supp. 306) (M.D. Ala.)
SD-AL-0012-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/22/1966
Source: Westlaw
Order Amending Order of March 22, 1966 (M.D. Ala.)
SD-AL-0012-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/18/1966
Source: Papers of Ruben Ortenberg
[Letter from Defendants Submitting Report]
SD-AL-0012-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/07/1967
Source: Papers of Ruben Ortenberg
Memorandum Opinion (289 F.Supp. 647) (M.D. Ala.)
SD-AL-0012-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/24/1968
Source: Westlaw
Opinion (400 F.2d 1)
SD-AL-0012-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/01/1968
Source: Westlaw
Opinion (402 F.2d 782)
SD-AL-0012-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/21/1968
Source: Westlaw
Opinion (395 U.S. 225)
SD-AL-0012-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/02/1969
Source: Westlaw
Opinion (429 F.2d 382)
SD-AL-0012-0013.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/29/1970
Source: Westlaw
Opinion (377 F.Supp. 1123) (M.D. Ala.)
SD-AL-0012-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/22/1974
Source: Westlaw
Brief for the United States as Amicus Curiae
SD-AL-0012-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/26/1974
Source: Papers of Brian Landsberg
Judgment (511 F.2d 1374)
SD-AL-0012-0012.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/11/1975
Source: Westlaw
Judges Black, Hugo Lafayette (SCOTUS)
SD-AL-0012-0010
Brown, John Robert (Fifth Circuit)
SD-AL-0012-0009
Gewin, Walter Pettus (Fifth Circuit)
SD-AL-0012-0008
Goldberg, Irving Loeb (Fifth Circuit)
SD-AL-0012-0012 | SD-AL-0012-0013
Johnson, Frank Minis Jr. (Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit, M.D. Ala.)
SD-AL-0012-0001 | SD-AL-0012-0005 | SD-AL-0012-0006 | SD-AL-0012-0007 | SD-AL-0012-0011
Thornberry, William Homer (Fifth Circuit, W.D. Tex.)
SD-AL-0012-0009
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barrett, St. John (District of Columbia)
SD-AL-0012-0004
Hardeman, Ben (Alabama)
SD-AL-0012-0004
Kennedy, Robert (District of Columbia)
SD-AL-0012-0004
Marlin, David H. (District of Columbia)
SD-AL-0012-0004
Marshall, Burke (District of Columbia)
SD-AL-0012-0004
Robison, Vaughn Hill (Alabama)
SD-AL-0012-0002
Other Lawyers DeMent, Ira (Alabama)
SD-AL-0012-0003
Graves, William C. (District of Columbia)
SD-AL-0012-0003
Landsberg, Brian K. (District of Columbia)
SD-AL-0012-0003
Pottinger, J. Stanley (District of Columbia)
SD-AL-0012-0003
Rich, Joseph D. (District of Columbia)
SD-AL-0012-0003

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