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Drew Municipal School District v. Andrews

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Synopsis

Drew Municipal School District v. Andrews is a lawsuit brought by two Black women against a Mississippi school district for refusing to hire them because they had children out of wedlock.

Description

Drew Municipal School District v. Andrews is a lawsuit that the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed on behalf of two Black women against the Drew Municipal School District for refusing to hire them. The suit was brought under the Federal Civil Rights laws and claimed violations of the Fourteenth Amendment’s ban on race and sex discrimination and the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments’ rights to privacy and procreative liberty.

Five Black women – all elementary school teachers’ aides in a Mississippi school district – were denied teaching jobs in the spring of 1972 on the basis of a policy instituted by the school superintendent that barred parents of out-of-wedlock children from all positions other than janitorial.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi ruled for the plaintiffs on grounds that the policy was unrelated to a person’s qualifications and excellence as a teacher and that it constituted sex discrimination. On appeal, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed unanimously without reaching the sex discrimination issue, calling the policy irrational.

The school board filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court, which the Court granted. CCR attorneys Rhonda Copelon and Charles Victor McTeer argued the case before the Court. Two months later, without explanation, the Supreme Court dismissed the petition for certiorari as having been improvidently granted and left the Fifth Circuit’s favorable decision standing.