Earlier this year, a federal judge handed down a ruling in a case brought by parents in two rural Alabama counties. The parents claimed that Alabama’s constitutionally mandated property-tax system, which keeps assessments and revenue down, was created to protect large property holders and limit funding for black schools.
In an 800-page ruling, the judge agreed that the property-tax system set up in the 1901 Constitution was designed to keep taxes low and benefit planters and industrialists with extensive mineral holdings. The judge also agreed that by limiting property taxes, the writers of the Constitution made it difficult, if not impossible, for rural, predominately black schools to receive adequate funding.
However, in what the judge admitted was a disappointing decision to reach, the purpose of the limitation was not to discriminate against black students. The purpose was to protect the pocketbooks of the powerful. What happened to minority children was simply collateral damage.