On this day: SCOTUS rules on Milliken v. Bradley Detroit busing case

    U.S. Supreme Court | Robin Bravender

    On July 25, 1974, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruled against cross-district busing in the landmark case, Milliken v. Bradley. The case has come back into the national spotlight as a flashpoint in the first Democratic presidential debates.

    The NAACP on Aug. 18, 1970, filed suit against Michigan state officials, including then-Gov. William Milliken, on behalf of Ronald Bradley, a second-grade Black student at Detroit’s Clinton Elementary. The NAACP alleged that the city and state had enacted policies that increased racial segregation. Many white suburban residents vehemently opposed busing.

    Forty-five* years ago today, the high court ruled that court-ordered busing was to be carried out in Detroit only and did not involve suburban students who resided in Macomb County, Oakland County and other portions of Wayne County.

    Milliken v. Bradley: The Michigan court case at the heart of the national Dem debate over busing

    U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) laid into former Vice President Joe Biden over his record on busing during the Democratic National Committee debate last month in Miami. Several other contenders have weighed in on the issue since then.

    In her first law review article, published in 1975 in the Rutgers Law Review, another presidential hopeful, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), criticized the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Milliken v. Bradley, arguing it made it easier for school districts to stop busing students in northern cities.

    * This story has been updated with the correct number of years since the Supreme Court’s ruling.

    Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.


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