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Abstract

This study examines the enforcement of desegregation orders mandated under state law as a result of the Supreme Court’s handling of school desegregation cases at the federal level. The Article tracks the development of school desegregation cases starting shortly before Brown v. Board of Education and continues through the recent voluntary school desegregation case, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1. The Article establishes four distinct generations of school desegregation cases at the federal level and determines that the political tides created, in large part, by the U.S. Supreme Court’s handling of federal school desegregation cases severely limited efforts to pursue state-mandated school desegregation in the state of Pennsylvania, where the Pennsylvania Human Relation Act required the state to remedy even de facto school desegregation in Philadelphia. The study reaches this conclusion after bringing to bear the fact that the Philadelphia School Desegregation Case also has four generations of court rulings, and those rulings align temporally and politically with the four generations of federal school desegregation cases.