The Decline of Judicial Decision Making: School Desegregation and District Court Judges
37 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2003
This article examines all published or electronically available federal district court opinions concerning school desegregation from June 1, 1992, to June 1, 2002, and their disposition on appeal. Based on the resulting analysis, the article argues that the commonly held perception of the all-powerful district court judge is outdated. Instead of controlling the process and outcome of the school desegregation cases, district court judges have ceded to the parties, particularly the defendants, a great deal of control over both the process and outcome of the litigation. In doing so, the judges have allayed, to no small degree, many of the criticisms of their role in school desegregation. Yet the price of the deference to defendants has been denial to school desegregation plaintiffs the fulfillment of their rights, even under the admittedly pro-defendant standards of the Supreme Court. This Article identifies two Alabama district court judges who are exceptions to the pattern of deference to defendants. Unlike their colleagues, these judges have taken an active role in overseeing their school desegregation cases. Through their efforts, school desegregation suits are being dismissed, but only after thorough and relatively successful desegregation efforts.
Keywords: School desegregation, Remedies, Injunctions
JEL Classification: K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation