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.
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.