Appeals Court Rules That Alabama Property Tax System Does Not Result in Increased Segregation of the State’s System of Higher Education

A three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently threw out a challenge to the Alabama property tax system. Plaintiffs in the case argued that the property tax system did not raise enough money to support the public K-12 schools in the state. As a result, Alabama was obliged to dip into the state’s general fund to make up the balance. This left less money for the state to devote to higher education, forcing colleges and universities to raise tuition and other fees. As a result, according to the plaintiffs, this rise in tuition had the effect of reducing overall black enrollments at state-operated colleges and universities. This violates the state’s agreement with the federal courts to fully divest itself of all forms of racial segregation in its system of higher education.

But district court judge Harold Murphy ruled, “There are simply far too many links in this chain to permit us to infer that Alabama’s method of funding its K-12 education causes, in any meaningful way, the continuing segregation of its colleges and universities.” The three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit agreed with Judge Murphy’s assessment.

The plaintiffs have said that they will appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.