Before Hastings, Circuit Judge, and Decker and Marovitz,
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Decker, District Judge.
Plaintiffs claim that these statutes*fn2 violate their
fourteenth amendment rights to equal protection and due
process because they permit wide variations in the
expenditures per student from district to district, thereby
providing some students with a good education and depriving
others, who have equal or greater educational need. Plaintiffs
claim to be members of this disadvantaged group.
To correct this inequitable situation, they seek a
declaration that the statutes are unconstitutional and a
permanent injunction forbidding further distribution of tax
funds in reliance on these laws.
The defendants are state officials charged with the
administration of the legislation which allegedly permits this
A three-judge district court was convened pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2281 and 2284. Defendants then moved to dismiss the
complaint (1) for lack of jurisdiction and (2) for failure to
state a cause of action.
We conclude that we have jurisdiction. After examining the
complaint, and studying the extensive briefs filed by the
respective parties as well as the brief of the amici
curiae,*fn3 we further conclude that no cause of action is
stated for two principal reasons: (1) the Fourteenth Amendment
does not require that public school expenditures be made only
on the basis of pupils' educational needs,*fn4 and (2) the
lack of judicially manageable standards makes this controversy
non-justiciable. After explaining the structure of the
existing Illinois legislation, this opinion will discuss these
two conclusions in detail.
The federal courts have jurisdiction over the subject matter
of this controversy. As stated in Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186,
200, 82 S.Ct. 691, 701, 7 L.Ed.2d 663 (1962):
"Since the complaint plainly sets forth a case
arising under the Constitution, the subject
matter is within the federal judicial power
defined in Art. III, § 2, and so within the power
of Congress to assign to the jurisdiction of the
II. The Financing of Illinois' Public Schools
The General Assembly has delegated authority to local school
districts to raise funds by levying a tax on all property
within the district. In addition, the school districts may
issue bonds for constructing and repairing their buildings.
Legislation limits both the maximum indebtedness and the
maximum tax rate which localities may impose for educational
purposes. In 1966-67, the approximately 1300 districts had
roughly $840 per pupil with which to educate their students,
of which about 75% came from local sources, 20% was derived
from state aid, and 5% was supplied by the federal government.
Since the financial ability of the individual districts varies
substantially, per pupil expenditures vary between $480 and
$1,000. State statutes which permit such wide variations
allegedly deny the less fortunate Illinois students of their
Article VIII, section 1 of the Illinois Constitution, S.H.A.
requires the legislature to "provide a thorough and efficient
system of free schools, whereby all children of this state may
receive a good common school education." Accordingly, a state
common school fund supplements each district's local property
tax revenues, guaranteeing a foundation level of $400 per
student. The common school fund has two main components: (1)
a flat grant to districts for each pupil, and (2) an
equalization grant awarded to each district which levies a
minimum property tax rate.*fn8 The equalization grant is
calculated on the assumption that the district only assesses
the minimum rate. Total revenues from the state common school
fund account for about 15% — 18% of all districts' income.
The local tax revenue per student which is necessarily
generated by the preceding minimum rate*fn9 is added to the
flat grant per pupil. If this sum is less than $400, the
difference is the equalization grant. Therefore, every
district levying the minimum rate is assured of at least $400
per child. On the other hand, if a locality desires to tax
itself more heavily than the minimum rate, it is not penalized
by having the additional revenue considered before
determination of the equalization grant. Since the
hypothetical calculation uses the same tax rate for all
localities, the assumed revenue per child depends upon the
total assessed property ...