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U.S. Supreme Court

Mayor v. Educational Equality League, 415 U.S. 605 (1974)

Mayor of Philadelphia v. Educational Equality League

No. 72-1264

Argued December 10, 1973

Decided March 25, 1974

415 U.S. 605


The Mayor of Philadelphia is empowered by the city charter to appoint a Nominating Panel, which, in turn, submits to him nominees to fill vacancies on the School Board. The Panel consists of 13 members. The Mayor must appoint four members from the citizenry at large; each of the remaining nine must be the highest ranking officer of one of nine designated categories of city-wide organizations. A new Panel is convened in every odd-numbered year. Respondents brought this action for declaratory and injunctive relief charging that Mayor Tate had violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by discriminating against Negroes in appointments to the 1971 Panel. Following hearings, the District Court found that respondents had failed to prove racial discrimination and dismissed their complaint. The Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that respondents had established an unrebutted prima facie case of unlawful exclusion of Negroes from consideration for service on the 1971 Panel. Although Tate was succeeded, while the case was sub judice, by Mayor Rizzo (as to whose Panel appointment practices the record is silent), the court directed the issuance of certain injunctive relief against Rizzo with regard to the 1973 Panel and future Panels.


1. The Mayor's principal argument, that federal courts may not interfere with the discretionary appointment powers of an elected executive officer, is of greater importance than was accorded it by the Court of Appeals, but the argument need not be addressed here, since the record is devoid of reliable proof of racial discrimination. Pp. 415 U. S. 613-616.

2. The Court of Appeals' finding of racial discrimination rests on ambiguous testimony as to a statement in 1969 by then Mayor Tate with regard to the 1969 School Board, not the 1971 Panel; the unawareness of certain organizations on the part of a city official who did not have final authority over the challenged appointments; and racial-composition percentage comparisons the

Page 415 U. S. 606

District Court correctly rejected as meaningless in the context of this case. The Court of Appeals therefore erred in overturning the District Court's findings and conclusions. Pp. 415 U. S. 616-621.

3. The Court of Appeals erred in ordering injunctive relief against Mayor Rizzo with regard to the 1973 Panel and future Panels, since the record speaks solely to the appointment practices of Tate, his predecessor, who left office in 1972. Pp. 415 U. S. 621-623.

4. The principal issue throughout this litigation has been whether Mayor Tate violated the Fourteenth Amendment. There is no basis for remanding the case to the District Court for resolution of peripheral state law issues under that court's pendent jurisdiction or, alternatively, for abstention so that the case may be tried anew in a state court. Pp. 415 U. S. 623-629.

472 F.2d 612, reversed.

POWELL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and STEWART, BLACKMUN, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. WHITE, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, and in Part II of which DOUGLAS, J., joined, post, p. 415 U. S. 633.

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