United States v. Fordice, Court Case

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Full Title:

United States v. Fordice 505 U.S. 717


Private petitioners initiated this lawsuit in 1975. They complained that Mississippi had maintained the racially segregative effects of its prior dual system of postsecondary education in violation of the Fifth, Ninth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments, 42 U. S. C. §§ 1981 and 1983, and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U. S. C. § 2000d. 724*724 Shortly thereafter, the United States filed its complaint in intervention, charging that state officials had failed to satisfy their obligation under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title VI to dismantle Mississippi’s dual system of higher education.

The District Court, the Court of Appeals, and respondents recognize and acknowledge that the State of Mississippi had the constitutional duty to dismantle the dual school system that its laws once mandated. Nor is there any dispute that this obligation applies to its higher education system. If the State has not discharged this duty, it remains in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Brown v. Board of Education 728*728 and its progeny clearly mandate this observation. Thus, the primary issue in these cases is whether the State has met its affirmative duty to dismantle its prior dual university system.

Our decisions establish that a State does not discharge its constitutional obligations until it eradicates policies and practices traceable to its prior de jure dual system that continue to foster segregation. 

The Court of Appeals concluded that the State had fulfilled its affirmative obligation to disestablish its prior de jure segregated system by adopting and implementing race-neutral policies governing its college and university system. Because students seeking higher education had “real freedom” to choose the institution of their choice, the State need do no more. 

Source Citation:

United States v. Fordice. 1992. 505 U.S. 717 (Supreme Court 1992).

Cite this page:

N/A. 1992. "United States v. Fordice, Court Case." History of Higher Education. https://higheredhistory.gmu.edu/primary-sources/united-states-v-fordice-court-case/