A great deal of litigation involving alleged state-imposed racial segregation in the public schools has been inspired by the Brown v. Board of Education mandate. One of the most recent cases was United States v. School District of Omaha. The Department of Justice initiated that action, alleging that unconstitutional racial segregation existed within the Omaha public schools and seeking remedial relief. It was alleged that the defendants had engaged in a policy of intentional school segregation within the Omaha School District in violation of Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the fourteenth amendment of the United States Constitution. The plaintiffs sought affirmative relief through a mandatory court-imposed school desegregation order. After an extensive factual analysis, the district court concluded that there was insufficient evidence of intentional racial discrimination to justify judicial intervention, denied plaintiffs the relief sought, and dismissed their suit. This decision was appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, where it was heard before a special three-judge panel. The appellate court reversed and remanded the decision of the district court, concluding that the lower court had applied an incorrect legal standard for determining segregative intent, and that there was sufficient evidence of intentional segregation within the Omaha School District to necessitate a judicial remedy. The court directed the Omaha School Board to promulgate and implement a complete desegregation program for the entire school district before the 1976–77 school year. This Note examines the opinions of the district court and court of appeals, discussing each on its own merits and then in relation to the other. A historical perspective is developed to provide a basis for more complete understanding of the constitutional principles and issues surrounding desegregation litigation.
James R. Nearhood,
Foreseeable Racial Segregation—A Presumption of Unconstitutionality: United States v. School District of Omaha, 521 F.2d 530 (1975),
55 Neb. L. Rev. 144
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