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Most Petitions for High Court Review Rejected

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Petitions for review in more than two dozen education and youth-related cases faced the Justices as they began their new term, but few were accepted. Unless otherwise noted, the Court rejected petitions for review in the following cases.


DESEGREGATION Missouri v. Liddell, another round in the long-running St. Louis case, in which the state asked the Court to bar U.S. District Judge William Hungate from fashioning a metropolitan desegregation plan before determining whether suburban school districts have been guilty of illegal segregation.

The U.S. Justice Department opposed the state's position and asked that the Justices deny the petition for review.

Six related petitions challenging the court-ordered merger, for purposes of desegregation, of five segregated school districts in suburban Pittsburgh.

The state and four former school districts contended that the federal district and appellate courts had abused their discretion in the creation of the new Woodland Hills district. The state's case was called Commonwealth v. Hoots.

Board of Education of North Little Rock v. Davis, an Arkansas case involving the continued standing of plaintiffs in the school-desegregation case. Lower courts had ruled that a black parent need not have a child enrolled in a particular school in order to contest, on grounds of racial discrimination, that school's closing. The Supreme Court declined to review the same case last year.


TEACHERSThree cases in which state supreme courts had upheld the contractual rights of teachers' organizations to charge fees to nonmembers who nonetheless benefit from the unions' bargaining representation and other services.

The cases were Schreffler v. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (Pennsylvania); Lockwood v. Jefferson Area Teachers (Ohio); and Threlkeld v. Robbinsdale Federation of Teachers.

Britt v. Simi Valley Unified School District, a California case involving a teacher's right to appeal his firing in federal court before exhausting administrative remedies. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found that Bryant R. Britt was required to complete administrative appeals before he could file a federal civil-rights suit. But the Supreme Court sent the case back to the Ninth Circuit in light of its decision last June, in Patsy v. Board of Regents of Florida, which held that exhaustion of administrative appeals is not necessarily a prerequisite to a civil-rights complaint.

Buchanon v. Macon County Community Action Committee, in which a Head Start teacher was fired upon being elected to the county school board. Head Start officials contended that her service on the board presented a conflict of interest, since the school system participates in the administration of the Head Start program. A federal district judge upheld the dismissal.

Byrd v. San Francisco Unified School District, in which a federal appellate court ruled that the school district did not discriminate when it refused to give immediate reinstatement to a teacher who had been granted a leave of absence.

Godwin v. East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, in which a lower federal court held that a teacher's First Amendment rights were not violated by a policy that prohibited her from bringing a 15-by-23-inch sign to a school-board meeting. The Court dismissed the claim "for want of a substantial federal question."


CHILD WELFAREMoe v. Dinkins, a challenge to a New York law that prohibits minors from marrying, even if the young woman is pregnant, if one parent objects. New York law requires that all young women between the ages of 14 and 18 and all young men between the ages of 16 and 18 have written parental consent to marry.


CONSTRUCTION BONDSSchool Board of Dade County v. Travelers Indemnity Co., involving the insurance firm's attempt to recover $139,000 from the Miami school system for cost overruns on a high-school construction project. Travelers, which issued the bonds to finance the project and oversaw its completion after the original contractor defaulted, contends that the school board was responsible for the delays and should be held liable. A federal appellate court ordered the case tried in federal district court.


Material on the Supreme Court cases was compiled by Peggy Caldwell and Sheppard Ranbom.

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