A decade of litigation in which the central issue of discrimination essentially was uncontested thus far has failed to disestablish racial segregation or produce desperately needed low-income housing for Chicago blacks. Recently, the unconcluded litigation has produced a unanimous United States Supreme Court decision exposing suburban racial sanctuaries to the possibility of integrated public housing units. Although the first-named plaintiff in the suit, Dorothy Gautreaux, did not survive the decision, the extent of her posthumous triumph is the central theme of this article. Although Gautreaux superficially indicates that a federal judge has the power to desegregate federally subsidized housing and thereby spearhead a breakout strategy for inner-city-trapped minorities, more recent land use decisions have strengthened the power of racially segregated suburbs to maintain economic, and hence, racial "purity.” Indeed, within a few weeks of the Gautreaux decision, the Court upheld an exclusionary land use device by permitting the residents of Eastlake, Ohio to veto by referendum a land use change approved by both a planning commission and city council. The practical result of this classic demonstration of "devotion to democracy" was to halt the construction of a multifamily, high-rise apartment building. Although the exclusionary implications of the decision did not escape the notice of the Ohio Supreme Court justices, the United States Supreme Court ignored the exclusionary effects and focused instead on the due process rights of the landowner. This article will discuss the contradictions and conflict between Gautreaux's use of a metropolitan area remedy and the Supreme Court's land use decisions. First, however, this article will explore both the reality and the illusion of Gautreaux.
Illusion and Contradiction in the Quest for a Desegregated Metropolis, 1976 U. ILL. L.F. 948