New ACLU Pro-Bono Scam Recalls Boston’s Benighted Busing Days

BOSTON-BusingBack in the early 1970s I represented the Boston School Committee in the so-called busing case. There were two stages to the case: the liability stage and the remedy stage. The School Committee hire two firms to represent it in a suit filed by parents of black kids complaining that their kids were not afforded the same equal educational opportunity as that afforded to the white kids. The lawyers who were representing the aggrieved and various other entities who joined in to assist them came from private law firms who had “volunteered” their services.

During the first stage, the liability stage, the firm of Hale & Dorr (now WilmerHale) did most of the litigation for the Committee. James St Clair one of Boston’s prominent trial lawyers took the lead. The outcome was foreordained – it was apparent the city’s schools were highly segregated and there were enough examples of tacit cooperation by the Committee with that state of affairs to make a finding of deliberate segregation even though most of the segregation was attributed to neighborhood patterns rather than official action. But the judge was hell-bent to twist the situation into one where he could intervene so he found the Committee liable.

The next stage was needed to make a determination what to do about the matter. The judge had to create a remedy. The news media en masse, the people in the suburbs like the judge, and those with children in private schools whose children were not affected in any way by the judge’s decision were highly supportive of the black parents suit and the judge. Hale and Dorr seeing which way the public wind was howling took a wise but somewhat uncourageous step. It resigned from representing the Committee. That left my firm, mostly me, in the position of handling the remedy stage.

It was all fakery. What happened in court among counsel had little to do with the ultimate remedy. Most of it was devised behind closed doors in the judge’s lobby and for all I knew with members in the media who were excitedly cheering on the march over the cliff that every much affected the Boston school children as the actions of the Pied Piper did the children of Hamelin.

True, there was a hearing before four masters who were to make some type findings. Experts who knew nothing about the city testified based on maps they had prepared in their offices in Austin and Sacramento. The masters reported as the judge wanted. In some “emergency” hearings called by the judge it was demanded that I respond to recalcitrant or truculent statements made by Committee members that appeared in the newspapers or were whispered in the judge’s ear. It seemed not only was the Committees control over the public schools to be taken away but the judge brooking no opposition was intent on crushing their First Amendment right of free speech.

The debacle known as busing began. The inner city black kids and white kids were the guinea pigs; the designers and cheerleaders kids were not affected. They schooled on without a hiccup. Some communities recognizing the inadequacies of the Boston Public Schools allowed black kids to be bussed to their towns; none of their white kids would be bussed into the city. It was too dangerous.

It is universally recognized busing accomplished nothing in the way of education for the children. It did give those unaffected by the whole brouhaha a feeling of righteousness. It brought about a worse school system in which much of its resources were directed away from education to police protection, busing, and the many “experts” the judge surrounded himself with.

This all came back to mind reading a recent newspaper article about the 1.8 million dollar plus bills submitted by the ACLU and its lawyers against two Massachusetts cities. They represented the rights of panhandlers. It recalled a another bit of  fakery that occurred during the busing case. The lawyers who were supposed to be “volunteers” were keeping tabs on their time and expenses. They submitted huge bills for their time involved in the litigation. This took more resources from the school kids. Their concern was not the education of the children but the enrichment of themselves.

This is an ongoing abuse in civil rights litigation. You would think that the 1.8 million dollar submittal in cases over whether the panhandling regulations of a city violated a person’s First Amendment right could be solved rather quickly and inexpensively. The judges in the federal courts in which these cases are heard live up to the expression “make a federal case out of nothing.” Their procedures are time-consuming and tedious. They would be much less so if the costs were coming out of their pockets. Little public good is served in taking money from poor cities and towns and filling the coffers of law firms.

5 thoughts on “New ACLU Pro-Bono Scam Recalls Boston’s Benighted Busing Days

  1. In September 1974 when the picture above was taken, McDonald was not quite 8.5 years old. If, as he claims, his mother took him to the high school to watch the demonstrations, then shame on her. With that type of motherly judgment, Mrs. McDonald’s children obviously had little chance to amount to anything more than poor souls. McDonald’s “belly of the beast” was not South Boston. It was his home.


  2. MacDonald’s feelings on Whitey after having grown up “in the belly of the beast”……

    “Still alive at 85 (now 87?), James “Whitey” Bulger, after sixteen quite comfortable years on the lam, is finally in prison for racketeering and 11 direct murders, but not for the hundreds upon hundreds of drug-related indirect murders of young people we lost in Southie through the years…”

    And about Southie:
    ” , it can be felt most profoundly today in the reality that poor and working class people of all complexions can no longer afford to live in that city whose turf we fought over, died on, and ultimately lost to speculators and developers who—just like the politicians, policymakers, and gangsters whose careers were made during busing—had none of us in mind.”

  3. If the ACLU truly wanted to protect your civil liberties, then the ACLU would be taking the lead and working closely with the NRA, SAF, GOA and other advocacy groups to restore and preserve our 2nd Amendment rights. Instead, the ACLU should rename themselves the ASCLU, as in the American Selective Civil Liberties Union or the American Some Civil Liberties Union.

    The ACLU and NRA have worked together on blatant civil rights violations involving privacy, government record-keeping, and the “no-fly list”, but that is exceptional rather than usual:

    Anyone for government licensing of your 1st Amendment rights or that the rights only apply for what you do in your home? Some could argue that such concepts would be “reasonable restrictions”.

    “A right delayed is a right denied.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

  4. You are right about the nature of the ACLU. That organization and it’s founder Baldwin supported FDR’s criminal act of imprisoning 100,000 Japanese Americans in concentration camps during WW2. His practices weren’t much better than his enemies. The ACLU tried to get the US Supreme Court to send the St. Pat’s parade case back to the corrupt local judges and deny the Veterans their Constitutional Rights. The civil rights laws have turned into total ripoffs. The Federal judges and their connected lawyer friends are just bleeding the system. The ACLU are civil rights violators not defenders. What is worse these legal scams or the 300G a year T worker? Or is it just government? Can it be fixed? Will the FBI always be the secret police? The tv network Al Jazeera is closing in April. Should the Iranians with their unfrozen assets buy it? This blog should buy it. We need one channel that doesn’t cover Trump 24/7.

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