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Lee v. Washington

U.S.
Mar 11, 1968
390 U.S. 333 (1968)

Summary

upholding racial desegregation order applied to prison system

Summary of this case from Pitts v. Thornburgh

Opinion

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA.

No. 75.

Argued November 7, 1967. Decided March 11, 1968.

A three-judge District Court declared Alabama statutes requiring racial segregation in prisons unconstitutional and established a schedule for desegregation. The State's challenges of the judgment based on Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 23 (relating to class actions), the claimed constitutionality of the statutes, and the failure to allow for necessary prison security and discipline, held to be without merit.

263 F. Supp. 327, affirmed.

Nicholas S. Hare, Special Assistant Attorney General of Alabama, argued the cause for appellants. With him on the briefs were MacDonald Gallion, Attorney General, Gordon Madison, Assistant Attorney General, and J. M. Breckenridge.

Charles Morgan, Jr., argued the cause for appellees. With him on the brief were Orzell Billingsley, Jr., and Melvin L. Wulf.


This appeal challenges a decree of a three-judge District Court declaring that certain Alabama statutes violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the extent that they require segregation of the races in prisons and jails, and establishing a schedule for desegregation of these institutions. The State's contentions that Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which relates to class actions, was violated in this case and that the challenged statutes are not unconstitutional are without merit. The remaining contention of the State is that the specific orders directing desegregation of prisons and jails make no allowance for the necessities of prison security and discipline, but we do not so read the "Order, Judgment and Decree" of the District Court, which when read as a whole we find unexceptionable.

The judgment is affirmed.


In joining the opinion of the Court, we wish to make explicit something that is left to be gathered only by implication from the Court's opinion. This is that prison authorities have the right, acting in good faith and in particularized circumstances, to take into account racial tensions in maintaining security, discipline, and good order in prisons and jails. We are unwilling to assume that state or local prison authorities might mistakenly regard such an explicit pronouncement as evincing any dilution of this Court's firm commitment to the Fourteenth Amendment's prohibition of racial discrimination.


Summaries of

Lee v. Washington

U.S.
Mar 11, 1968
390 U.S. 333 (1968)

upholding racial desegregation order applied to prison system

Summary of this case from Pitts v. Thornburgh

upholding temporary racial segregation of prison to quell race riot

Summary of this case from Cook v. Babbitt

protecting prisoners from violence might justify narrowly tailored discrimination

Summary of this case from Fisher v. Univ. of Tex. at Austin

indicating that protecting prisoners from violence might justify narrowly tailored racial discrimination

Summary of this case from Grutter v. Bollinger

In Lee v. Washington, 390 U.S. 333 (1968), we did not even inquire whether segregating prisoners by race was rational, although it could be argued that integration in a southern prison would lead to disorder among inmates; we held that in any event segregation was prohibited by the Fourteenth Amendment.

Summary of this case from Jones v. North Carolina Prisoners' Union

stating that the governmental goals of “maintaining security, discipline, and good order” in a prison can satisfy strict scrutiny analysis

Summary of this case from United States v. Chovan

In Lee v. Washington, 390 U.S. 333, 88 S.Ct. 994, 19 L.Ed.2d 1212 (1968), the Supreme Court tackled the issue of racial segregation in prisons.

Summary of this case from Johnson v. California

In Lee v. Washington, 390 U.S. 333, 88 S.Ct. 994, 19 L.Ed.2d 1212 (1968), the Supreme Court affirmed the order of a three judge district court declaring that Alabama statutes requiring racial segregation in prisons are unconstitutional and establishing a schedule for desegregation.

Summary of this case from Thomas v. Pate
Case details for

Lee v. Washington

Case Details

Full title:LEE, COMMISSIONER OF CORRECTIONS OF ALABAMA, ET AL. v . WASHINGTON ET AL

Court:U.S.

Date published: Mar 11, 1968

Citations

390 U.S. 333 (1968)
88 S. Ct. 994

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