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decided: June 21, 1973.



Burger, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which White, Blackmun, Powell, and Rehnquist, JJ., joined. Blackmun, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which Powell, J., joined, post, p. 12. Douglas, Brennan, Stewart, and Marshall, JJ., filed a dissenting statement, post, p. 12.

Author: Burger

[ 413 U.S. Page 3]

 MR. CHIEF JUSTICE BURGER delivered the opinion of the Court.

Respondents, alleging that they were full-time students and officers in the student government at Kent State University in Ohio, filed this action*fn1 in the District Court on behalf of themselves and all other students on October 15, 1970. The essence of the complaint is that, during a period of civil disorder on and around the University campus in May 1970, the National Guard, called by the Governor of Ohio to preserve civil order and protect public property, violated students' rights of speech and assembly and caused injury to a number of students and death to several, and that the actions of the National Guard were without legal justification. They sought injunctive relief against the Governor to restrain him in the future from prematurely ordering National Guard troops to duty in civil disorders and an injunction to restrain leaders of the National Guard from future violation of the students' constitutional rights. They also sought a declaratory judgment that ยง 2923.55 of the Ohio Revised Code*fn2 is unconstitutional. The District Court held that the complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted and dismissed the suit. The Court of Appeals*fn3 unanimously affirmed the District Court's dismissal with respect to injunctive relief against the Governor's "premature" employment of the Guard on future occasions and with respect to the

[ 413 U.S. Page 4]

     validity of the state statute.*fn4 At the same time, however, the Court of Appeals, with one judge dissenting, held that the complaint stated a cause of action with respect to one issue which was remanded to the District Court with directions to resolve the following question:

"Was there and is there a pattern of training, weaponry and orders in the Ohio National Guard which singly or together require or make inevitable the use of fatal force in suppressing civilian disorders when the total circumstances at the critical time are such that nonlethal force would suffice to restore order and the use of lethal force is not reasonably necessary?"*fn5

We granted certiorari to review the action of the Court of Appeals.*fn6


We note at the outset that since the complaint was filed in the District Court in 1970, there have been a number of changes in the factual situation. At the oral argument, we were informed that none of the named respondents is still enrolled in the University.*fn7 Likewise, the officials originally named as party defendants no longer hold offices in which they can exercise any authority over the State's National Guard,*fn8 although the suit is against such parties and their successors in office. In addition, both the petitioners, and the Solicitor General appearing as amicus curiae, have informed us that since 1970 the Ohio National Guard has adopted new "use of force" rules substantially differing from those in

[ 413 U.S. Page 5]

     effect when the complaint was filed; we are also informed that the initial training of National Guard recruits relating to civil disorder control*fn9 has been revised.

Respondents assert, nevertheless, that these changes in the situation do not affect their right to a hearing on their entitlement to injunctive and supervisory relief. Some basis, therefore, exists for a conclusion that the case is now moot; however, on the record before us we are not prepared to resolve the case on that basis and therefore turn to the important question whether the claims alleged in the complaint, as narrowed by the Court of Appeals' remand, are justiciable.


We can treat the question of justiciability on the basis of an assumption that respondents' claims, within the framework of the remand order, are true and could be established by evidence. On that assumption, we address the question whether there is any relief a District Court could appropriately fashion.

It is important to note at the outset that this is not a case in which damages are sought for injuries sustained during the tragic occurrence at Kent State. Nor is it an action seeking a restraining order against some specified and imminently threatened unlawful action. Rather, it is a broad call on judicial power to assume continuing regulatory jurisdiction over the activities of the Ohio National Guard. This far-reaching demand for relief presents important questions of justiciability.

Respondents continue to seek for the benefit of all Kent State students a judicial evaluation of the appropriateness of the ...

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