His Appointment Stanley v. Georgia (1969) Dandridge v. Williams (1970) Roe v. Wade (1971)
Milliken v. Bradley (1974) Regents of the Univ. of CA v. Bakke (1978) Cruzan v. Director MO Dept. of Health (1989) Perry v. Louisiana (1990)

Milliken v. Bradley (1974)

    Unlike Brown v. Board of Education and Keyes - Southern cases of de juro segregation (legal under state law) - Milliken was a case of de facto segregation as a result of the dividing lines between the school districts of Michigan. It was a fact that the urban area of Detroit was populated predominately by black citizens, while the suburbs were predominately white. Thus the schools were hardly integrated. Ronald Bradley, an African-American student in Detroit’s inner city, filed a lawsuit with the aid of the NAACP, claiming that the lines had been drawn purposely to segregate the white and black schoolchildren. A federal court agreed with Bradley, finding numerous examples of deliberate segregation by the Detroit school board. The board was ordered to create a desegregation plan that would incorporate students from eighty-five suburban districts as well as the city. This plan would call for busing for students from the city to the suburbs, and vice versa. The federal court of appeals felt that “not to affirm [federal district court judge] Roth’s plan would ‘nullify’ Brown and turn the education clock back to the ‘separate-but-equal’ doctrine of Plessy.”1

    Marshall knew the proposal of inter-district busing would seem revolutionary to President Nixon and to many Americans, but he strove to convince his fellow justices that the case was an important step in the process of completely desegregating public schools. The Supreme Court struck down the lower court’s determination, claiming that the court could not impose a remedy for de facto segregation for one school district. This was the first case since Brown in which a school desegregation plan was negated by the Supreme Court.

    The judges were split 5 - 4 on this decision. Marshall was one of the dissenters, and he addressed the nation, “Desegregation is not and was never expected to be an easy task. … In the short run, it may seem to be the easier course to allow our great metropolitan cities to be divided up each into two cities - one white, the other black - but it is a course, I predict, our people will ultimately regret.”2

1 A Defiant Life (p234)
2 Dream Makers, Dream Breakers (p374)