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The Education Justice: The Honorable Lewis Franklin Powell, Jr.

23 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2007  

Victoria J. Dodd

Suffolk University Law School


During his tenure on the United States Supreme Court, from 1971 to 1987, Justice Lewis Powell penned at least twenty major Supreme Court majority opinions concerning the law of American education, as well as many other important dissents and concurrences in this field of law.

This article discusses Justice Powell's rich connections to American education through his lifetime of public service to education, most of which transpired before his appointment to the Supreme Court. The article then analyzes three of Justice Powell's most important education law opinions - San Antonio Indep. School Dist. v. Rodriguez, Ingraham v. Wright, and Committee of Public Educ. v. Nyquist - and then asks, pre-Grutter, if the Supreme Court would ultimately sustain the Bakke decision, another of Justice Powell's celebrated education law opinions. Like Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, whom Justice Powell mentored when she was first appointed to the Court, Justice Powell occupied a central position on the Court and was therefore able to influence the Supreme Court's jurisprudence in many areas, including the law of American education. Today, the contributions of both Jurists may ultimately be undermined by current Supreme Court thinking.

Suggested Citation

Dodd, Victoria J., The Education Justice: The Honorable Lewis Franklin Powell, Jr.. Fordham Urban Law Journal, Vol. 29, p. 683, 2001. Available at SSRN:

Victoria Dodd (Contact Author)

Suffolk University Law School ( email )

120 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108-4977
United States

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