Education, Supreme Court, Justice Powell


The Honorable Lewis Franklin Powell, Jr. is “the education Justice” of the United States. During his tenure on the U.S. Supreme Court, from 1971 to 1987, Justice Powell authored at least twenty major opinions in education law, in addition to numerous significant concurrences and dissents. Just a sampling of Justice Powell's majority opinions on education could form the bulk of an education law textbook recognizable by any American law student. This Article will explore some of Justice Powell's major Supreme Court rulings in education law. It will also consider how these rulings may have related to aspects of Justice Powell's life. In addition, the Article will briefly describe the Supreme Court's current views on education and will attempt to describe how Justice Powell might analyze these issues today. At least one sitting Justice on the Supreme Court, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, appears to have been influenced by Justice Powell's views. Justice O'Connor occupies a similar ideological position on the Supreme Court as did Justice Powell, who wrote more than 250 majority opinions and whose “knack for being on the winning side never dropped below eighty per cent in any term, and often exceeded ninety per cent.”

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