Goss et al. v. Lopez et al.
Decided on Jan. 22, 1975; 419 US 565


 

I. ISSUES II. CASE SUMMARY III. AMICI CURIAE IV. DECISION V. WIN OR LOSS?
I. ISSUES:

A. Issues Discussed: Due process, education

B. Legal Question Presented:

Does the suspension of students, for 10 days, pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 3313.66 (1972), which allows for school suspension up to 10 days without a hearing, constitute a violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?
II. CASE SUMMARY:

A. Background:

"Appellee Ohio public high school students, who had been suspended from school for misconduct for up to 10 days without a hearing, brought a class action against appellant school officials seeking a declaration that the Ohio statute permitting such suspensions was unconstitutional and an order enjoining the officials to remove the references to the suspensions from the students' records.

A three-judge District Court declared that appellees were denied due process of law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment because they were "suspended without hearing prior to suspension or within a reasonable time thereafter," and that the statute and implementing regulations were unconstitutional, and granted the requested injunction."  

On appeal the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the District Court.
B. Counsel of Record:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Unavailable Unavailable
C. The Arguments:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Unavailable Unavailable
III. AMICI CURIAE:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)

Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed by David Bonderman, Peter Van N. Lockwood, Paul L. Tractenberg, David Rubin, and W. William Hodes for the National Committee for Citizens in Education et al.; by Alan H. Levine, Melvin L. Wulf, and Joel M. Gora for the American Civil Liberties Union; by Robert H. Kapp, R. Stephen Browning, and Nathaniel R. Jones for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People et al.; and by Marian Wright Edelman for the Children's Defense Fund of the Washington Research Project, Inc., et al.

Peter D. Roos argued the cause for appellees. With him on the brief were Denis Murphy and Kenneth C. Curtin.

John F. Lewis filed a brief for the Buckeye Association of School Administrators et al. as amici curiae urging reversal.

Thomas A. Bustin argued the cause for appellants. With him on the briefs were James J. Hughes, Jr., Robert A. Bell, and Patrick M. McGrath.

IV. THE SUPREME COURT'S DECISION:

"Having chosen to extend the right to an education to people of appellees' class generally, Ohio may not withdraw that right on grounds of misconduct, absent fundamentally fair procedures to determine whether the misconduct has occurred, and must recognize a student's legitimate entitlement to a public education as a property interest that is protected by the Due Process Clause, and that may not be taken away for misconduct without observing minimum procedures required by that Clause.

Since misconduct charges if sustained and recorded could seriously damage the students' reputation as well as interfere with later educational and employment opportunities, the State's claimed right to determine unilaterally and without process whether that misconduct has occurred immediately collides with the Due Process Clause's prohibition against arbitrary deprivation of liberty. (...)

Due process requires, in connection with a suspension of 10 days or less, that the student be given oral or written notice of the charges against him and, if he denies them, an explanation of the evidence the authorities have and an opportunity to present his version. Generally, notice and hearing should precede the student's removal from school, since the hearing may almost immediately follow the misconduct, but if prior notice and hearing are not feasible, as where the student's presence endangers persons or property or threatens disruption of the academic process, thus justifying immediate removal from school, the necessary notice and hearing should follow as soon as practicable."

The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the injunction granted to Appellees by the District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

Justice Vote: 5 Pro vs. 4 Con

  • White, B. Pro (Wrote majority opinion)
  • Douglas, W. pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Brennan. W. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Stewart, P. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Marshall, T. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Powell, L. Con (Wrote dissenting opinion)
  • Burger, W. Con (Joined dissenting opinion)
  • Blackmun, H. Con (Joined dissenting opinion)
  • Rehnquist, W. Con (Joined dissenting opinion)
V. A WIN OR LOSS FOR THE ACLU?

The ACLU, as amicus curiae, urged affirmance of the judgment of the District Court for the Southern District of Ohio; the Supreme Court affirmed in a 5-4 vote, giving the ACLU an apparent win.