This article, originally published in 1985, is based partly on the author’s experience with the Boston school desegregation case, but goes beyond it. It chronicles some of the events that occurred when a state and a federal court attempted to disengage from active jurisdiction over two Boston public systems: the Boston Public Schools and the Boston Housing Authority. It makes three proposals, which, if enacted, would help to keep the courts out of day-to-day management of municipal operations. It also makes some generalizations about the court-agency interplay that are relevant to the post-remedial phase of institutional reform litigation. The author uses the term “restorative law” to describe this court-controlled process of returning power to the executive branch.



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