Civil Rights

As principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, Mr. Cooper had supervisory responsibility over many of the important civil rights cases conducted during the first term of the Reagan Administration. We have particular expertise in institutional reform litigation, involving school systems, prisons, and juvenile detention facilities. We also have litigated several cases involving the validity of affirmative action programs. Representative matters include:

  • Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action v. The Regents of the University of Michigan
    539 F. Supp.2d 924 (E.D. Mich. 2008) We represent a Michigan resident and law student who successfully intervened to defend against an equal protection challenge to Michigan’s constitutional ban on using racial preferences in public employment, education, and contracting. When the federal district court denied intervention, we secured a reversal through and interlocutory appeal to the Sixth Circuit. More recently, the federal district court agreed with our client’s position and rejected the constitutional challenges brought by the plaintiffs.
  • Rockford Board of Education v. People Who Care
    246 F.3d 1073 (7th Cir. 2001) We represented the Rockford, Illinois Board of Education in this school desegregation case. We had asked the district court to declare the school district unitary, vacate the desegregation decree, and dismiss the case. The trial court held that the school district was not unitary, and ruled that the busing order must remain in place at least until 2006. The court of appeals reversed and remanded with instructions that the district court grant all of the relief sought by our client.
  • Coalition to Save our Children v. State Board of Education
    90 F.3d 752 (3d Cir. 1996) On behalf of the Delaware House of Representatives Committee on Desegregation, we successfully urged the district court to declare the four school districts in the Wilmington, Delaware metropolitan area unitary, dissolve a busing order that had been in place since 1978, and finally dismiss a school desegregation case originally brought in 1956. On appeal, we successfully argued that the trial court’s decision should be affirmed in its entirety.
  • Dowell v. Board of Education
    8 F.3d 1501 (10th Cir. 1993) We represented the Oklahoma City Board of Education in proceedings following remand from the United States Supreme Court in this school desegregation case that originally was filed over forty years ago. The district court granted our motion for summary judgment, declared the school district unitary, terminated court supervision over the Oklahoma City public schools, and dismissed the case. On appeal, the Tenth Circuit accepted our argument that the Oklahoma City schools had satisfied the standard established by the Supreme Court and affirmed the trial court’s decision to end the case.
  • Davis v. East Baton Rouge School District
    Civ. A. No. 1662 (M.D. La. filed Apr. 30, 1982) When we were retained by the East Baton Rouge School District in 2001, the school district had been subject to more than four decades of federal court supervision. We filed and vigorously pressed a motion for unitary status. After extensive discovery, the case settled on terms that granted the school district unitary status and ended federal court supervision.
  • United States v. The Marion County School District
    No. 78-22 (M.D. Fl.) We represent the Marion County, Florida, School District in connection with its long running school desegregation case. We were retained to seek unitary status (i.e., an order dismissing the case), and recently we successfully defended the School District in a hearing regarding whether it violated its consent decree with the United States.
  • Wilson v. Coalition for Economic Equality
    F.3d 1431 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 963 (1997) We represented the intervenor Californians Against Discrimination and Preferences, Inc., in a case involving the constitutionality of Proposition 209 which prohibited the State of California from utilizing racial and gender preferences in education, employment and contracting. The court of appeals vacated the preliminary injunction entered by the district court and held that Proposition 209 was constitutional.
  • Smith, et. al. v. Virginia Commonwealth University
    84 F.3d 672 (4th Cir. 1996) (en banc) On appeal before the en banc Fourth Circuit, we represented five male professors who charged Virginia Commonwealth University with engaging in impermissible gender discrimination in its salary structure. The court of appeals reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendant university.
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