"Milliken v. Bradley—Desegregation, Busing, and Boundaries" is the 36th Michigan Legal Milestone


Milliken v. Bradley, a historic 1974 United States Supreme Court case that addressed a plan for desegregation of schools and busing in Detroit and its suburbs, will be the subject of the State Bar's 36th Michigan Legal Milestone.

A panel of speakers with diverse viewpoints will reflect on the significance of the case and its continuing impact on schools in southeastern Michigan and across the nation at a dedication ceremony and luncheon at noon Friday, September 16 at the Hyatt Regency in Dearborn. The event will be held in conjunction with the State Bar of Michigan Annual Meeting.

In its decision the Supreme Court rejected inter-district school busing as a solution to the segregation of Detroit schools and found that there was no evidence that the multiple districts outside Detroit had deliberately engaged in a policy of segregation. This verdict, based on a controversial 5-4 decision, came four years after a class-action lawsuit was filed against the state by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People on behalf of parents of students in the Detroit school system. They alleged that the district was racially segregated due to official policies, and that this violated the principles of the Supreme Court's 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

A bronze plaque outlining the issues in "Milliken v. Bradley: Desegregation, Busing, and Boundaries" will be unveiled at the end of the ceremony and will later be installed at a suitable location. SBM President W. Anthony Jenkins and SBM Executive Director Janet Welch will share the duties of master of ceremonies. Speakers include:

  • Joyce Baugh, Central Michigan University Political Science professor and author of "The Detroit School Busing Case: Milliken v Bradley and the Controversy over Desegregation"
  • Thomas M. Costello Jr., Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion president/CEO
  • Hon. Nathaniel R. Jones, former NAACP general counsel, argued thecase at the U.S. Supreme Court
  • Frank J. Kelley, former Michigan attorney general, argued the case at the U.S. Supreme Court
  • Prof. John Mogk, former Detroit Board of Education member, Wayne State University Law School professor emeritus
  • Daniel R. Ray, Thomas M. Cooley Law School professor
  • George T. Roumell Jr., former Detroit Board of Education attorney, argued the case when it returned to the Supreme Court in 1977. Mr. Roumell founded the Michigan Legal Milestones program.
  • William Saxton, counsel, director emeritus, and former chair and CEO of Butzel Long, who argued the case on behalf of the suburban school districts

The Michigan Legal Milestones Program recognizes significant cases and personalities in our state's history. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the program. It is overseen by the State Bar of Michigan Law-Related Education and Public Outreach Committee, chaired by Jeffrey Paulsen and Margaret Krasnoff. The Wolverine Bar Association, led by Brandy Y. Robinson, is the State Bar's partner in the Milliken v. Bradley milestone dedication.