WASHINGTON v. SEATTLE SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 1

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
81-9
Appellee 
Seattle School District No. 1
Appellant 
Washington
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the appellants)
(Argued the cause for the appellees)
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Facts of the Case 

In 1978, a Seattle school district adopted a mandatory busing plan to integrate its schools. No court or administrative body found the district to be engaged in unlawful segregation. A statewide initiative adopted in 1978 mandated a neighborhood school policy. The policy provided for some exceptions including voluntary busing options and mandatory busing if so ordered by state or federal courts. The initiative blocked the implementation of Seattle's mandatory busing plan. School officials challenged the Washington government in federal court.

Question 

Does the statewide initiative violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Conclusion 
Decision: 5 votes for Seattle School District No. 1, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Equal Protection

Yes. The initiative reordered the educational decisionmaking process by moving the power over busing for purposes of integration to state control. The state explicitly employed "the racial nature of a decision to determine the decisionmaking process." This kind of state action places an unconstitutional burden on racial minorities within the governmental process.

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WASHINGTON v. SEATTLE SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 1. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 19 July 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1981/1981_81_9>.
WASHINGTON v. SEATTLE SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 1, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1981/1981_81_9 (last visited July 19, 2014).
"WASHINGTON v. SEATTLE SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 1," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed July 19, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1981/1981_81_9.