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30 Conn. L. Rev. 211 (1997-1998)
Why Sheff v. O'Neill is a Landmark Decision

handle is hein.journals/conlr30 and id is 221 raw text is: Why Sheff v. O'Neill Is a Landmark Decision
Finding a way to cross the racial and ethnic divide has never been
more important than it is today.'
The decision by the Connecticut Supreme Court in Sheff v. O'Neill'
represents a    landmark3     in  school desegregation      law.    A   majority    of
justices4 departed from existing federal common law doctrine to find an
explicit state constitutional prohibition against de facto racial and ethnic
segregation of schoolchildren in public schools in the state's capital city
* Professor of Law, University of Connecticut School of Law. BA. Howard University,
1966; J.D. Howard University, 1969. Professor Brittain was one of the lawyers in the liiga-
tion that led to the landmark decision by the Connecticut Supreme Court in Sheff v. ONeill.
For additional background on this case, see John C. Brittain, Educational and Racial Eqult:
Towards the Twenox-First Century-A Case Experiment In Connecticut, In RACE IN AIERICA,
Tai STuGiLE FOR EQUALn' (Herbert Hill et al. eds., 1993).
[Author's note: These remarks were made and later isritten for publication from an accep-
tance speech.] Thank you very much for the Connecticut Law Review Award for 1997. 1 am
sure that the co-award recipient, Wesley Horton, who is a close colleague on the faculty at the
law school and a co-counsel in the school desegregation litigation, joins me in accepting this
award on behalf of the entire legal team for the plaintifs in Sheff v. 0 Neil But for the
high caliber of these public interest lawyers on the Sheff team, who represent the NAACP
Legal Defense Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union and the affiliate Connecticut Civil
Liberties Union, plus the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund and the Hispanic Advocacy Project
of the former Hartford Neighborhood Legal Services, I would not be here today for this award.
To these lawyers, Theodore Shaw, Dennis Parker, Marianne Lado, Martha Stone, Philip
Tegeler, Christopher Hanson, Sandra Del Valle, and Wilfredo Rodriguez, I owe a debt of grati-
tude, and to the Law Review editors, much appreciation. In accepting this award, I will share
my views on why I think that Sheff v. O'Neill is a landmark decision.
1. Sheff v. O'Neill, 238 Conn. 1, 44, 678 A.2d 1267, 1290 (1996).
2. 678 A.2d 1267 (Conn. 1996).
3. A landmark decision significantly changes existing law. See BLAcK's LAW DiCOn.tARY
879 (6th ed. 1990).
4. Majority: Justices Ellen Ash Peters, Ci., Robert 1. Berdon, Fleming L Norcott, Jr., and
Joette Katz. Justice Berdon wrote a separate concurrence. Dissent: Justices David M. Borden,
Robert J. Callahan, and Richard Palmer.

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