FREEMAN v. PITTS

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
89-1290
Petitioner 
Robert R. Freeman et al.
Respondent 
Willie Eugene Pitts et al.
Advocates
(on behalf of the Petitioners)
(Solicitor General, Department of Justice, on behalf of the United States, as amicus curiae, supporting the Petitioners)
(on behalf of the Respondents)
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Facts of the Case 

In 1969, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia ordered the DeKalb County School System (DCSS) to eliminate its previously legal racial segregation and its inequitable byproducts under judicial control. However, in 1986, DCSS officials filed a motion, intending for the District Court to declare the DCSS officially desegregated and withdraw supervision. Green v. School Board of New Kent County, outlines 6 categories in which a school district should achieve desegregation, and the District Court found that the DCSS was successful in 4 of these categories. Consequently, the court decided to relinquish control over the DCSS in these 4 areas, while it maintained control and mandated further improvements in the areas in which segregation still existed. Both the respondents, black schoolchildren and their parents, and the petitioners, the DCSS officials, appealed the District Court's decision, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed it. The Court of Appeals argued that the District Court should have authority over the DCSS until it is fully desegregated in all 6 categories for several years.

Question 

1) Is a district court permitted to withdraw supervision of a school system that is under a court-ordered desegregation decree in the areas in which the school system complies with its decree if it does not comply in every area? 2) In the case of the DCSS, was the Court of Appeals correct in reversing the District Court's decision to withdraw supervision incrementally?

Conclusion 
Decision: 8 votes for Freeman, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision:

Yes and No. In a unanimous decision authored by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the Court found that a district court must only maintain control over a school system in the categories in which it has failed to abide by its court-ordered desegregation plan. The Court argued that this incremental approach provides district courts with a systematic and orderly means to their ultimate goal: to fully withdraw supervision. In addition, it allows the district court to focus more attention and resources where they are needed most. In compliance with the Court's determination, it reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals.

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FREEMAN v. PITTS. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 12 December 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1991/1991_89_1290>.
FREEMAN v. PITTS, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1991/1991_89_1290 (last visited December 12, 2014).
"FREEMAN v. PITTS," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed December 12, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1991/1991_89_1290.