Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Maryland Settles Higher Education Desegregation Case for A Half Billion Dollars

Mesmerizing, Or A Hot Mess? Why Maryland's State Flag Looks So ...
By Leland Ware, Louis L. Redding Professor of Law & Public Policy, University of Delaware. This case is discussed in more detail in professor Ware’s book, A Century of Segregation: Race, Class, and Disadvantage.

The Maryland Senate gave bipartisan support to the landmark settlement in Coalition for Equity & Excellence in Maryland Higher Education v. Maryland Higher Education Commission. Four historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in Maryland can expect to increase their budgets by a total of $577 million dollars.

In the late 19th century Maryland established a dual, racially segregated system of public education. The “colored” institutions were Morgan, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Coppin and Bowie. Under a series of Supreme Court decisions including U.S. v. Fordice, the adoption of race-neutral admission policies is not enough to satisfy desegregation obligations. States that maintained racially segregated colleges and universities have a legal duty to eliminate all vestiges of the segregated system.

In 1975, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) informed Maryland that it was seeking the termination of federal funding based on its failure to eliminate the vestiges of segregation in its colleges and universities. In 2000, Maryland and OCR entered into a settlement agreement which set forth commitments that the State made that would result in full compliance under federal laws.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Maryland’s HBCUs began offering unique, high-demand programs to attract significant numbers of white students. Rather than building on that progress, however, Maryland made large investments in two traditionally white institutions (TWI) that undermined the desegregation progress. These investments included the duplication of programs at HBCUs. Responding to the proposal, an assistant Attorney General warned: 

Please be advised that the Secretary’s decision [to approve an MBA program at an HWI], while within his discretion to act, was made contrary to advice and counsel rendered to him by the Office of the Attorney General. . . There is little question that the proposed MBA program, if approved, would constitute “unnecessary program duplication” as that term of art is defined and articulated in federal law.

The State ignored this advice. In 2006, a nonprofit group, the Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education, filed a lawsuit alleging the state deliberately duplicated innovative educational programs created at black universities, luring would-be students to their white counterparts. After a trial, the Court found that Maryland’s HBIs were still racially identifiable institutions. White students made up only 5% of the population of Maryland’s HBCUs in the fall 2009. Black students were 91% of the populations at those schools.

A federal court held in 2013 that the state had not eliminated vestiges of its segregated educational system.  The Court concluded that in view of the number of regionally proximate institutions in Maryland, the expert analysis of program duplications throughout Maryland, and the recognition of several State officials of the historic problem of program duplication, the Coalition proved that the unnecessary program duplication was traceable to policies and practices established during the de jure era and continued into the present. These conditions violated Maryland’s duty to eliminate the vestiges of de jure system that perpetuated racial segregation.
The Court ordered that parties to negotiate a settlement on the remedy. There were four failed mediations under two governors since 2013. The half billion-dollar agreement settles the question of damages. Funding would be distributed proportionally to enrollment at each of the four HBCU’s. The bill now goes to the desk of the Republican governor, Larry Hogan.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Presenting the Jurors for the Lillian Smith Book Awards for 2020

The Southern Regional Council (SRC), founded in 1919 to combat racial injustice, established the Lillian Smith Book Awards in 1966 to recognize writing which extends the legacy of the outspoken writer who challenged all Americans on issues of social and racial justice.

Since 2004 the awards have been presented by SRC in a partnership with the University of Georgia Libraries, whose Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library houses a historic collection of Lillian Smith's letters and manuscripts. Since 2007 this partnership has also included Georgia Center for the Book, and the awards ceremony is now presented on the Sunday of the Labor Day Weekend as part of the Decatur Book Festival in Decatur, Georgia. Since 2016, this partnership has included Piedmont College, which operates the Lillian Smith Center in Clayton, Georgia. Excerpts from the 2008 - 2016 awards ceremonies may be viewed through by clicking on the images on the right side of this page. The 2020 awards ceremony will be held at the DeKalb County Public Library in Decatur, Georgia on Sunday, September 6th.

This year’s Lillian Smith jury is again chaired by Mary A. Twining, Emeritus Professor of English and Folklore at Clark Atlanta University.  Noted for her study of the Sea Island Communities of Georgia and South Carolina and their cultural ties to West African, her published work has included Sea Island Roots: African Presence in the Carolinas and Georgia, edited with Keith E. Baird (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press 1991); Names and Naming in the Sea Islands, a contribution to the Crucible of Carolina: Essays in the Development of Gullah Language and Culture, edited by Michael Montgomery and Louise Ferrell, University of Georgia Press, 1994; The New Nomads, Art, Life, and Lure of Migrant workers in New York State, published in The Journal of the New York Folklore Society 1987; and numerous contributions to the Journal of Black Studies.

Dr. Vicki CrawfordDr. Crawford received her Ph.D. degree from Emory University in the field of American Studies with a concentration in twentieth century African American history.Dr. Crawford has spent ten years as an academic administrator and has sought to enhance her administrative skills through participation in the American Council on Education’s National Leadership Forum for Women Administrators. Currently, she is Director of the Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection where she is developing campus-based programming in support of the Collection and creating opportunities for teaching, research and scholarship that promote the legacy of Dr. King.

James Taylor has managed the Atlanta Fulton Public Library’s Buckhead Branch and hosted the System’s Writers in Focus, “a meet-the-author” television show produced by Fulton County Television (FGTV) .  He previously managed the Library Express Department, the Circulation Department, and the Ivan Allen Reference Department.
Also rejoining the jury this year is Merryl Penson, Executive Director of Library Services for the Georgia Board of Regents.
Joining the jury this again year is  

E. Delores Stephens is a Professor of English at Morehouse College, where she teaches World Literature, Shakespeare, and British literature survey courses.  Her areas of scholarship and research include women's fiction, Caribbean literature, and biography.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Supreme Court Rejects Addition of Citizenship Question to Census

On June 27, 2019, the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration's decision to add a citizenship question to the U.S. census did not violate the Enumeration Clause or the Census Act, but the Commerce Secretary’s rationale for the decision was an unlawful pretext for the actual reason.

In March 2018, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, announced that he had decided to add a question about citizenship on the 2020 census questionnaire. The Secretary stated that he was acting at the request of the Department of Justice, which sought improved data about citizen voting-age population for the purposes of enforcing the Voting Rights Act’s ban on diluting the influence of minority voters by depriving them of single-member districts in which they could elect their preferred candidates

Civil actions were filed alleging the Secretary’s decision violated the Enumeration Clause of the Constitution and the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act. Another group of plaintiffs asserted an equal protection claim.

The government argued that the plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue their claims. To have standing, a plaintiff must allege an injury that is concrete, particularized, and actual or imminent; fairly traceable to the defendant’s challenged behavior; and is likely to be redressed by a favorable ruling.

The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s conclusion that the plaintiffs had standing. The evidence established a sufficient likelihood that adding a citizenship question would result in noncitizen households responding to the census at lower rates than other groups. This would cause them to be undercounted and lead to many of the injuries they asserted.

The government also argued the Commerce department’s decision was nonreviewable. In some limited instances, final agency actions can be deemed nonreviewable and committed to the agency’s discretion. Rejecting the government’s argument that the Secretary’s decision to include a citizenship question was not reviewable under the Administrative Procedure Act, the Supreme Court held the decision was amenable to judicial review to ascertain compliance with the Census Act.

The evidence showed that the Secretary was determined to add a citizenship question from the time he entered office. He instructed his staff to make it happen and waited while Commerce officials explored whether another agency would request census-based citizenship data. Late in the course of this process, Commerce officials contacted the Attorney General to ask if the Justice Department would make the request using the Voting Rights Act as the rationale.

The majority concluded that the Secretary had made up his mind to include a citizenship question well before receiving Justice Department’s request, and did so for reasons unrelated to the Voting Rights Act. The decision to add a citizenship question could not be explained by the Justice Department’s request for improved citizenship data to better enforce the Voting Rights Act. This was a cynical and disingenuous pretext. There was a significant mismatch between the decision the Secretary made and the rationale provided.

The government claimed that Commerce was acting on a routine data request from another agency. Unlike a typical case in which an agency might have both stated and unstated reasons for a decision. In this case the Voting Rights rationale seemed to the majority to have been contrived. The Trump Administration wasn’t acting to protect the voting rights of minorities. It was seeking to intimidate and discourage noncitizen households from responding to Census questionnaires.

Reasoned decision making under the Administrative Procedure Act requires an explanation for agency’s action. The justification the government offered lacked credibility. What was provided in this case was more of a dishonest “distraction” than a legitimate explanation. The case was remanded for further proceedings consistent with Court’s opinion.

[1] Leland Ware, University of Delaware. Professor Ware’s book, “A Century of Segregation: Race, Class and Disadvantage” can be purchased from Amazon and other on-line outlets.