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April 20, 1976



Stewart, Stevens, Marshall, Brennan, White.

Author: Stewart

[ 425 U.S. Page 286]

 MR. JUSTICE STEWART delivered the opinion of the Court.

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has been judicially found to have violated the Fifth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in connection with the selection of sites for public housing in the city of Chicago. The issue before us is whether the remedial order of the federal trial court may extend beyond Chicago's territorial boundaries.


This extended litigation began in 1966 when the respondents, six Negro tenants in or applicants for public housing in Chicago, brought separate actions on behalf of themselves and all other Negro tenants and applicants similarly situated against the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) and HUD.*fn1 The complaint filed against CHA in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois alleged that between 1950 and 1965 substantially all of the sites for family public housing selected by CHA and approved by the Chicago City Council were "at the time of such selection, and are now," located "within the areas known as the Negro Ghetto." The respondents further alleged that CHA deliberately selected the sites to "avoid the placement of Negro families in white neighborhoods" in violation of federal statutes and the Fourteenth Amendment. In a companion suit against HUD the respondents claimed that it had "assisted in the carrying on and continues to assist in the carrying on of a racially discriminatory public housing system within the City of Chicago" by providing

[ 425 U.S. Page 287]

     financial assistance and other support for CHA's discriminatory housing projects.*fn2

The District Court stayed the action against HUD pending resolution of the CHA suit.*fn3 In February 1969, the court entered summary judgment against CHA on the ground that it had violated the respondents' constitutional rights by selecting public housing sites and assigning tenants on the basis of race.*fn4 Gautreaux v. Chicago Housing Authority, 296 F. Supp. 907.

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     Uncontradicted evidence submitted to the District Court established that the public housing system operated by CHA was racially segregated, with four overwhelmingly white projects located in white neighborhoods and with 99 1/2% of the remaining family units located in Negro neighborhoods and 99% of those units occupied by Negro tenants. Id., at 910.*fn5 In order to prohibit future violations and to remedy the effects of past unconstitutional practices, the court directed CHA to build its next 700 family units in predominantly white areas of Chicago and thereafter to locate at least 75% of its new family public housing in predominantly white areas inside Chicago or in Cook County. Gautreaux v. Chicago Housing Authority, 304 F. Supp. 736, 738-739.*fn6 In addition, CHA was ordered to modify its tenant-assignment and site-selection procedures and to use its best efforts to increase the supply of dwelling units as rapidly as possible in conformity with the judgment. Id., at 739-741.

[ 425 U.S. Page 289]

     The District Court then turned to the action against HUD. In September 1970, it granted HUD's motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted. The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed and ordered the District Court to enter summary judgment for the respondents, holding that HUD had violated both the Fifth Amendment and § 601 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 252, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d, by knowingly sanctioning and assisting CHA's racially discriminatory public housing program. Gautreaux v. Romney, 448 F.2d 731, 739-740.*fn7

On remand, the trial court addressed the difficult problem of providing an effective remedy for the racially segregated public housing system that had been created by the unconstitutional conduct of CHA and HUD.*fn8

[ 425 U.S. Page 290]

     The court granted the respondents' motion to consolidate the CHA and HUD cases and ordered the parties to formulate "a comprehensive plan to remedy the past effects of unconstitutional site selection procedures." The order directed the parties to "provide the Court with as broad a range of alternatives as seem... feasible" including "alternatives which are not confined in their scope to the geographic boundary of the City of Chicago." After consideration of the plans submitted by the parties and the evidence adduced in their support, the court denied the respondents' motion to consider metropolitan area relief and adopted the petitioner's

[ 425 U.S. Page 291]

     proposed order requiring HUD to use its best efforts to assist CHA in increasing the supply of dwelling units and enjoining HUD from funding family public housing programs in Chicago that were inconsistent with the previous judgment entered against CHA. The court found that metropolitan area relief was unwarranted because "the wrongs were committed within the limits of Chicago and solely against residents of the City" and there were no allegations that "CHA and HUD discriminated or fostered racial discrimination in the suburbs."

On appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, with one judge dissenting, reversed and remanded the case for "the adoption of a comprehensive metropolitan area plan that will not only disestablish the segregated public housing system in the City of Chicago... but will increase the supply of dwelling units as rapidly as possible." 503 F.2d 930, 939. Shortly before the Court of Appeals announced its decision, this Court in Milliken v. Bradley, 418 U.S. 717, had reversed a judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that had approved a plan requiring the consolidation of 54 school districts in the Detroit metropolitan area to remedy racial discrimination in the operation of the Detroit public schools. Understanding Milliken "to hold that the relief sought there would be an impractical and unreasonable overresponse to a violation limited to one school district," the Court of Appeals concluded that the Milliken decision did not bar a remedy extending beyond the limits of Chicago in the present case because of the equitable and administrative distinctions between a metropolitan public housing plan and the consolidation of numerous local school districts. 503 F.2d, at 935-936. In addition, the appellate court found that, in contrast to Milliken, there was evidence of suburban discrimination and

[ 425 U.S. Page 292]

     of the likelihood that there had been an "extra-city impact" of the petitioner's "intra-city discrimination." Id., at 936-937, 939-940. The appellate court's determination that a remedy extending beyond the city limits was both "necessary and equitable" rested in part on the agreement of the parties and the expert witnesses that "the metropolitan area is a single relevant locality for low rent housing purposes and that a city-only remedy will not work." Id., at 936-937. HUD subsequently sought review in this Court of the permissibility in light of Milliken of "inter-district relief for discrimination in public housing in the absence of a finding of an inter-district violation."*fn9 We granted certiorari to consider this important question. 421 U.S. 962.


In Milliken v. Bradley, supra, this Court considered the proper scope of a federal court's equity decree in the context of a school desegregation case. The respondents in that case had brought an action alleging that the Detroit public school system was segregated on the basis of race as the result of official conduct and sought an order establishing "'a unitary, nonracial school system.'" 418 U.S., at 723. After finding that constitutional violations committed by the Detroit School Board and state officials had contributed to racial segregation in the Detroit schools, the trial court had proceeded to the formulation of a remedy. Although there had been neither proof of unconstitutional actions on the part of neighboring school districts nor a demonstration that the Detroit violations had produced significant segregative effects in those districts, the court established

[ 425 U.S. Page 293]

     a desegregation panel and ordered it to prepare a remedial plan consolidating the Detroit school system and 53 independent suburban school districts. Id., at 733-734.*fn10 The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed the desegregation order on the ground that, in view of the racial composition of the Detroit school system, the only feasible remedy required "the crossing of the boundary lines between the Detroit School District and adjacent or nearby school districts." 484 F.2d 215, 249. This Court reversed the Court of Appeals, holding that the multidistrict remedy contemplated by the desegregation order was an erroneous exercise of the equitable authority of the federal courts.

Although the Milliken opinion discussed the many practical problems that would be encountered in the consolidation of numerous school districts by judicial decree, the Court's decision rejecting the metropolitan area desegregation order was actually based on fundamental limitations on the remedial powers of the federal courts to restructure the operation of local and state governmental entities. That power is not plenary. It "may be exercised 'only on the basis of a constitutional violation.'" 418 U.S., at 738, quoting Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 402 U.S. 1, 16. See Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 377. Once a constitutional violation is found, a federal court is required to

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     tailor "the scope of the remedy" to fit "the nature and extent of the constitutional violation." 418 U.S., at 744; Swann, supra, at 16. In Milliken, there was no finding of unconstitutional action on the part of the suburban school officials and no demonstration that the violations committed in the operation of the Detroit school system had had any significant segregative effects in the suburbs. See 418 U.S., at 745, 748. The desegregation order in Milliken requiring the consolidation of local school districts in the Detroit metropolitan area thus constituted direct federal judicial interference with local governmental entities without the necessary predicate of a constitutional violation by those entities or of the identification within them of any significant segregative effects resulting from the Detroit school officials' unconstitutional conduct. Under these circumstances, the Court held that the interdistrict decree was impermissible because it was not commensurate with the constitutional violation to be repaired.

Since the Milliken decision was based on basic limitations on the exercise of the equity power of the federal courts and not on a balancing of particular considerations presented by school desegregation cases, it is apparent that the Court of Appeals erred in finding Milliken inapplicable on that ground to this public housing case.*fn11

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     The school desegregation context of the Milliken case is nonetheless important to an understanding of its discussion of the limitations on the exercise of federal judicial power. As the Court noted, school district lines cannot be "casually ignored or treated as a mere administrative convenience" because they separate independent governmental entities responsible for the operation of

[ 425 U.S. Page 296]

     autonomous public school systems. 418 U.S., at 741-743.The Court's holding that there had to be an interdistrict violation or effect before a federal court could order the crossing of district boundary lines reflected the substantive impact of a consolidation remedy on separate and independent school districts. *fn12 The District Court's desegregation order in Milliken was held to be an impermissible remedy not because it envisioned relief against a wrongdoer extending beyond the city in which the violation occurred but because it contemplated a judicial decree restructuring the operation of local governmental entities that were not implicated in any constitutional violation.


The question presented in this case concerns only the authority of the District Court to order HUD to take remedial action outside the city limits of Chicago. HUD does not dispute the Court of Appeals' determination that it violated the Fifth Amendment and § 601 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by knowingly funding CHA's racially discriminatory family public housing program, nor does it question the appropriateness of a remedial order designed to alleviate the effects of past segregative practices by requiring that public housing be developed in areas that will afford respondents an opportunity to reside in desegregated neighborhoods. But HUD contends that the Milliken decision bars a remedy affecting

[ 425 U.S. Page 297]

     its conduct beyond the boundaries of Chicago for two reasons. First, it asserts that such a remedial order would constitute the grant of relief incommensurate with the constitutional violation to be repaired. And, second, it claims that a decree regulating HUD's conduct beyond Chicago's boundaries would inevitably have the effect of "consolidat[ing] for remedial purposes" governmental units not implicated in HUD's and CHA's violations. We address each of these arguments in turn.


We reject the contention that, since HUD's constitutional and statutory violations were committed in Chicago, Milliken precludes an order against HUD that will affect its conduct in the greater metropolitan area. The critical distinction between HUD and the suburban school districts in Milliken is that HUD has been found to have violated the Constitution. That violation provided the necessary predicate for the entry of a remedial order against HUD and, indeed, imposed a duty on the District Court to grant appropriate relief. See 418 U.S., at 744. Our prior decisions counsel that in the event of a constitutional violation "all reasonable methods be available to formulate an effective remedy," North Carolina State Board of Education v. Swann, 402 U.S. 43, 46, and that every effort should be made by a federal court to employ those methods "to achieve the greatest possible degree of [relief], taking into account the practicalities of the situation." Davis v. School Comm'rs of Mobile County, 402 U.S. 33, 37. As the Court observed in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education: "Once a right and a violation have been shown, the scope of a district court's equitable powers to remedy past wrongs is broad, for breadth and flexibility are inherent in equitable remedies." 402 U.S., at 15.

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     Nothing in the Milliken decision suggests a per se rule that federal courts lack authority to order parties found to have violated the Constitution to undertake remedial efforts beyond the municipal boundaries of the city where the violation occurred.*fn13 As we noted in Part II, supra, the District Court's proposed remedy in Milliken was impermissible because of the limits on the federal judicial power to interfere with the operation of state political entities that were not implicated in unconstitutional conduct. Here, unlike the desegregation remedy found erroneous in Milliken, a judicial order directing relief beyond the boundary lines of Chicago will not necessarily entail coercion of uninvolved governmental units, because both CHA and HUD have the authority to operate outside the Chicago city limits.*fn14

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     In this case, it is entirely appropriate and consistent with Milliken to order CHA and HUD to attempt to create housing alternatives for the respondents in the Chicago suburbs. Here the wrong committed by HUD confined the respondents to segregated public housing. The relevant geographic area for purposes of the respondents' housing options is the Chicago housing market, not the Chicago city limits. That HUD recognizes this reality is evident in its administration of federal housing assistance programs through "housing market areas" encompassing "the geographic area 'within which all dwelling units...' are in competition with one another as alternatives for the users of housing." Department of Housing and Urban Development, FHA Techniques of Housing Market Analysis 8 (Jan. 1970), quoting the Institute for Urban Land Use and Housing Studies, Housing Market Analysis: A Study of Theory and Methods, c. 2 (1953). The housing market area "usually extends beyond the city limits" and in the larger markets "may extend into several adjoining counties." FHA Techniques of Housing Market Analysis, supra, at 12.*fn15 An order against HUD and CHA regulating their conduct in the greater metropolitan area will

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     do no more than take into account HUD's expert determination of the area relevant to the respondents' housing opportunities and will thus be wholly commensurate with the "nature and extent of the constitutional violation." 418 U.S., at 744. To foreclose such relief solely because HUD's constitutional violation took place within the city limits of Chicago would transform Milliken 's principled limitation on the exercise of federal judicial authority into an arbitrary and mechanical shield for those found to have engaged in unconstitutional conduct.


The more substantial question under Milliken is whether an order against HUD affecting its conduct beyond Chicago's boundaries would impermissibly interfere with local governments and suburban housing authorities that have not been implicated in HUD's unconstitutional conduct. In examining this issue, it is important to note that the Court of Appeals' decision did not endorse or even discuss "any specific metropolitan plan" but instead left the formulation of the remedial plan to the District Court on remand. 503 F.2d, at 936. On rehearing, the Court of Appeals characterized its remand order as one calling "for additional evidence and for further consideration of the issue of metropolitan area relief in light of this opinion and that of the Supreme Court in Milliken v. Bradley." Id., at 940. In the current posture of the case, HUD's contention that any remand for consideration of a metropolitan area order would be impermissible as a matter of law must necessarily be based on its claim at oral argument "that court-ordered metropolitan relief in this case, no matter how gently it's gone about, no matter how it's framed, is bound to require HUD to ignore the safeguards of local autonomy and local political processes" and therefore to violate the limitations on federal judicial power

[ 425 U.S. Page 301]

     established in Milliken. In addressing this contention we are not called upon, in other words, to evaluate the validity of any specific order, since no such order has yet been formulated.

HUD's position, we think, underestimates the ability of a federal court to formulate a decree that will grant the respondents the constitutional relief to which they may be entitled without overstepping the limits of judicial power established in the Milliken case. HUD's discretion regarding the selection of housing proposals to assist with funding as well as its authority under a recent statute to contract for low-income housing directly with private owners and developers can clearly be directed toward providing relief to the respondents in the greater Chicago metropolitan area without pre-empting the power of local governments by undercutting the role of those governments in the federal housing assistance scheme.

An order directing HUD to use its discretion under the various federal housing programs to foster projects located in white areas of the Chicago housing market would be consistent with and supportive of well-established federal housing policy.*fn16 Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits racial discrimination in federally assisted programs including, of course, public housing programs.*fn17 Based upon this statutory prohibition, HUD in 1967 issued site-approval rules for low-rent

[ 425 U.S. Page 302]

     housing designed to avoid racial segregation and expand the opportunities of minority group members "to locate outside areas of [minority] concentration." Department of Housing and Urban Development, Low-Rent Housing Manual, § 205.1, [*] 4g (Feb. 1967 rev.). Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 expressly directed the Secretary of HUD to "administer the programs and activities relating to housing and urban development in a manner affirmatively to further" the Act's fair housing policy. 82 Stat. 85, 42 U.S.C. § 3608 (d)(5).

Among the steps taken by HUD to discharge its statutory duty to promote fair housing was the adoption of project-selection criteria for use in "eliminating clearly unacceptable proposals and assigning priorities in funding to assure that the best proposals are funded first." HUD Evaluation of Rent Supplement Projects and Low-Rent Housing Assistance Applications, 37 Fed. Reg. 203 (1972). In structuring the minority housing opportunity component of the project-selection criteria, HUD attempted "to assure that building in minority areas goes forward only after there truly exist housing opportunities for minorities elsewhere" in the housing market and to avoid encouraging projects located in substantially racially mixed areas. Id., at 204. See 24 CFR § 200.710 (1975). See generally Maxwell, HUD's Project Selection Criteria - A Cure for "Impermissible Color Blindness"?, 48 Notre Dame Law. 92 (1972).*fn18 More recently, in

[ 425 U.S. Page 303]

     the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, Congress emphasized the importance of locating housing so as to promote greater choice of housing opportunities and to avoid undue concentrations of lower income persons. See 88 Stat. 633, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5301 (c)(6), 5304 (a)(4)(A), (C)(ii) (1970 ed., Supp. IV); H.R. Rep. No. 93-1114, p. 8 (1974).

A remedial plan designed to insure that HUD will utilize its funding and administrative powers in a manner consistent with affording relief to the respondents need not abrogate the role of local governmental units in the federal housing-assistance programs. Under the major housing programs in existence at the time the District Court entered its remedial order pertaining to HUD, local housing authorities and municipal governments had to make application for funds or approve the use of funds in the locality before HUD could make housing-assistance money available. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 1415 (7)(b), 1421b (a)(2). An order directed solely to HUD would not force unwilling localities to apply for assistance under these programs but would merely reinforce the regulations guiding HUD's determination of which of the locally authorized projects to assist with federal funds.

The Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, amending the United States Housing Act of 1937, 88 Stat. 653, 42 U.S.C. § 1437 et seq. (1970 ed., Supp. IV), significantly enlarged HUD's role in the creation of housing opportunities. Under the § 8 Lower-Income Housing Assistance program, which has largely replaced the older federal low-income housing programs,*fn19 HUD

[ 425 U.S. Page 304]

     may contract directly with private owners to make leased housing units available to eligible lower income persons.*fn20 As HUD has acknowledged in this case, "local governmental approval is no longer explicitly required as a condition of the program's applicability to a locality." Brief for Petitioner 33-34. Regulations governing the § 8 program permit HUD to select "the geographic area or areas in which the housing is to be constructed," 24 CFR § 880.203 (b) (1975), and direct that sites be chosen to "promote greater choice of housing opportunities and avoid undue concentration of assisted persons in areas containing a high proportion of low-income persons." §§ 880.112 (d), 883.209 (a)(3). See §§ 880.112 (b), (c), 883.209 (a)(2), (b)(2). In most cases the Act grants the unit of local government in which the assistance is to be provided the right to comment on the application and, in certain specified circumstances, to preclude the Secretary of HUD from approving the application. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 1439 (a)-(c) (1970 ed., Supp. IV).*fn21

[ 425 U.S. Page 305]

     Use of the § 8 program to expand low-income housing opportunities outside areas of minority concentration would not have a coercive effect on suburban municipalities. For under the program, the local governmental units retain the right to comment on specific assistance proposals, to reject certain proposals that are inconsistent with their approved housing-assistance plans, and to require that zoning and other land-use restrictions be adhered to by builders.

In sum, there is no basis for the petitioner's claim that court-ordered metropolitan area relief in this case would be impermissible as a matter of law under the Milliken decision. In contrast to the desegregation order in that case, a metropolitan area relief order directed to HUD would not consolidate or in any way restructure local

[ 425 U.S. Page 306]

     governmental units. The remedial decree would neither force suburban governments to submit public housing proposals to HUD nor displace the rights and powers accorded local government entities under federal or state housing statutes or existing land-use laws. The order would have the same effect on the suburban governments as a discretionary decision by HUD to use its statutory powers to provide the respondents with alternatives to the racially segregated Chicago public housing system created by CHA and HUD.

Since we conclude that a metropolitan area remedy in this case is not impermissible as a matter of law, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals remanding the case to the District Court "for additional evidence and for further consideration of the issue of metropolitan area relief." 503 F.2d, at 940. Our determination that the District Court has the authority to direct HUD to engage in remedial efforts in the metropolitan area outside the city limits of Chicago should not be interpreted as requiring a metropolitan area order. The nature and scope of the remedial decree to be entered on remand is a matter for the District Court in the exercise of its equitable discretion, after affording the parties an opportunity to present their views.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals remanding this case to the District Court is affirmed, but further proceedings in the District Court are to be consistent with this opinion.

It is so ordered.

MR. JUSTICE STEVENS took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.


I dissented in Milliken v. Bradley, 418 U.S. 717

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     (1974), and I continue to believe that the Court's decision in that case unduly limited the federal courts' broad equitable power to provide effective remedies for official segregation. In this case the Court distinguishes Milliken and paves the way for a remedial decree directing the Department of Housing and Urban Development to utilize its full statutory power to foster housing projects in white areas of the greater Chicago metropolitan area. I join the Court's opinion except insofar as it appears to reaffirm the decision in Milliken.


* James M. P. D'Amico filed a brief for the city of Joliet, Ill., as amicus curiae urging reversal.

Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed by Martin E. Sloane and Arthur D. Wolf for the National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing, Inc.., and by Howard A. Glickstein, William L. Taylor, and Richard F. Bellman for the Notre Dame Center for Civil Rights et al.

Briefs of amici curiae were filed by J. Harold Flannery, Paul R. Dimond, William E. Caldwell, Norman J. Chachkin, and Nathaniel R. Jones for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law et al.; and by Stephen J. Pollak, Richard M. Sharp, and David Rubin for the National Education Association.

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