Thursday, June 28, 2007

Use of Race in School Placement Curbed

In a decision of sweeping importance to educators, parents and schoolchildren across the country, the Supreme Court today sharply limited the ability of school districts to manage the racial makeup of the student bodies in their schools.
The court voted, 5 to 4, to reject diversity plans from Seattle and Louisville, Ky., declaring that the districts had failed to meet “their heavy burden” of justifying “the extreme means they have chosen — discriminating among individual students based on race by relying upon racial classifications in making school assignments,” as Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the court.
This ruling can be seen as a direct assault on the Brown vs. Board of education decision in 1954. Is it possible that we will go back to the separate but equal school system that we had without ever having to state that publicly?
The rationale of the chief justice’s opinion relied in part on the historic 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education that outlawed segregation in public schools — a factor that the dissenters on the court found to be a cruel irony, and which they objected to in emotional terms.

“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discrimination on the basis of race,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote.
That is the most simplistic and idiotic explanation for a ruling that I have ever heard. In what world does Justice Roberts live? If stopping discrimination was that easy we would not have the racial prejudice that exists in this country today.

Will this ruling be used as the legal precedent to get rid of affirmative action? If you listen to Justice Roberts it would appear that is a strong possibility.
Mark Rahdert, a Temple Law School professor and a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun, said that today’s ruling means that “racial balance” will be “the new catchphrase conservatives will use to attempt to eradicate any form of affirmative action.”

As for Justice Kennedy’s “willingness to leave the door open to some forms of affirmative action,” it will be impossible as a practical matter, Mr. Rahdert said.

The National Urban League issued a statement asserting that today’s decision “could end up legalizing re-segregation nationwide by raising the bar for achieving racial diversity.”
Dissenting Justice Stephen Breyer said to an open court "It's not often that so few, have changed so much for so many."

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